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Huou8tu8 Summerfielb nDerriinon. 

**1Uitb Cbrist, wbicb is tar better/' 





This sketch was written for the relatives and friends 
of him to whose memory these pages are dedicated, and 
beino- written for those who loved him and who feel more 
than a mere passing interest in his life and work, I 
feel that there is little need of apologizing to them for its 
defects, in a literary point of view, and trnst that they 
will be overlooked in according this tribnte its only claim 
to merit — that of being what it is, a work of love. 

The greater part of the material for the sketch has been 
obtained, as a matter of conrse, from relatives and friends ; 
from sketches written in the past; from old letters and 
press-cuttings. These are responsible for many of the 
facts brought forward. 

As to the character and personality of the subject, it has 
been my object to delineate it plainly and truthfully, as I 
knew^ it and revered it. 

If this description of a noble, upright life will be able, 
under God's blessing, to adequately express the grand pos- 
sibilities of attainment for integrity and Christian man- 
hood, and thereby become even a tiny seed which will 
bear eood fruit, this tribute will not have been written in 
vain. A wreath of memories, it is laid upon the shrine of 
parental love by one whom my father knew as 



In that garden-spot of the Old North State, in what was 
tlien Buncombe county, but is now Transylvania, was born 
the subject of this memoir, Augustus Summerfield Mer- 
RiMOX. He came into the world at the home of his grand- 
father on the 15th of September, 1830. The old home 
was called ' ' Cherryfields, ' ' and it was noted at that time and 
in that section for its great fertility and beauty. Inclosed 
by mountains on all sides upon whose summits seemed to 
gently rest the great blue dome above, the lovely valley 
appeared shut off from its surroundings and a portion dis- 
tinct and separate from them. 

In this peaceful spot, beauty in Nature's grandest forms 
meets the eye, and with such surroundings lived the woman 
whose character was shaped after God's beautiful plan for 
Christian womanhood, the one who was destined to mould 
into goodly form the impressionable character of her son. 
Her parents were William Paxton, brother of Judge Paxton, 
at one time Judge of the Superior Court of North Carolina, 
and Sarah Grace McDowell Paxton, a daughter of General 
Charles McDowell, who, as well as his brother. General 
Joseph McDowell, served with distinction in the Revolu- 
tionary War. 

Mary Paxton, it is said, was a very beautiful girl. She 
had soft, silky brown hair, which her son inherited, and 
bright, sparkling eyes, which, with \\^x petite figure, doubt- 
less added charm to a personality that possessed above all 
other charms the fadeless lustre of soul-beauty, the grace 
of a meek and quiet spirit. In later years one who loved 


her told his children, her grandchildren^ of her affable 
manners and gentle nature, of the light tread of her little 
feet that one could scarcely hear at times as she walked 
across the floor, and of such qualities that seemed charac- 
teristic of her. 

Of the ancestors of Branch H. Merrimon little is known. 
He was born in Dinwiddie county, Virginia, but the family 
afterwards moved to Tennessee. Branch was a eav and 
thoughtless youth, but there came a great chauge into his 
life when his youthful thoughtlessness was stopped by the 
great questions of eternity and the salvation of souls. He 
dedicated his life to the service of his Maker, and con- 
nected himself with the Holston Conference of the Metho- 
dist Episcopal Church, South. In the course of his min- 
istrations in his circuit he met Mary Evelyn Paxton and 
married her. 

Branch Merrimon, with his young wife, came to live at 
a place called Mills' River, where he began the business 
of merchandising and farming in addition to his regular 
duties as a minister of the Gospel. From this place the 
little family moved again to a farm on the old stage-road 
leading from x\sheville to Hendersonville and beyond, and 
here the mind of the young Augustus began to be sys- 
tematically trained under the guidance of a lady then liv- 
ing in the family, Miss Minerva Cunningham, afterwards 
Mrs. Tatum, a woman of piety and sound sense. She 
remained in my grandfather's household for some years, 
and it was under her direction that my father's education 
began, and at this place he passed his childhood days. 
He has told me of his games with his sister, one of his few 
playmates, when she would pretend to be an hotel-keeper 
and he the master of a drove of hogs, such as were seen 
on the old stage-roads in those days. He w^ould come to 



inquire of the would-be hotel-keeper if she could shelter 
a certain number of hogs for the night. The master of the 
imao-inarv animals, in later years, has told me of his 
peculiar crv for calling them — a desolate wail, as the 
remembrance sounds in my ears to-day. Some of the 
striking and unique names that he applied to himself and 
his playmate in their games are quite amusing; such as 
these: ''Mr. and Mrs. Ramtinner," ^'Jimsneezer," "Bull- 

How proud he was when his father bought him a new 
suit of blue cloth with brass buttons! He would count the 
buttons over on the waistcoat, touching them, one by one, 
the while: ''One button, buttoned; two button, buttoned," 
repeating methodically, and so to the end. In this festive 
attire he accompanied my grandfather to town on a certain 
occasion, and while there witnessed a hanging, the first 
scene of the kind that the child had ever looked upon. 
Who can tell but that his youthful mind was even then 
impressed by the inexorable rigor, the stern justice of law? 
It was not very long before the family moved again and, 
at this time, to a large and beautiful farm on Hooper's Creek, 
about fourteen miles from Asheville. Here it was that my 
father's character assumed the clearly defined features which 
were to be still more prominent in after life and where, even 
in boyhood, thoughts and feelings seem to have led him to 
fixedness of purpose and manly resolutions for the future. 
To this place his thoughts often reverted in after years in 
affectionate remembrance, and he has said that that valley, 
inclosed by its sentinel mountains, was the loveliest that 
his eyes had ever seen. 

The house was an old-fashioned white one, crowning the 
top of a little eminence whose sides were green and beau- 
tiful "in the sweet summer-time, long ago." At the foot 


of the slope, at some distance from the house, flowed the 
creek which turned the saw-mill still further away, and 
over the bank leaned the willows, the profusion of their 
drooping heads in contrast to the lofty mountain-tops. At 
such a place as this, wnth surroundings so well calculated 
to draw the boy's thoughts to high and ennobling views of 
the world, with Nature's broad domain before him, and 
with resources suitable for the beginning of an eminently 
practical education, he toiled on his father's farm. Driv- 
ing the sturdy oxen with their wood loads, or on duty at 
the saw-mill, book in hand, the book of which he has so 
often spoken — Towne's xA.nalysis — he was doing a double 
duty, developing himself mentally and physically. It is 
probable that he recognized the fact that the best educa- 
tions are thoroughly practical and that the youthful mind 
more clearly comprehends and more certainly remembers 
theories of natural philosophy put into practice; that, 
indeed, a mind stuffed with theories and rules, but with 
no experimental knowledge, is like an engine beautiful as 
to mechanism but with no motive-power. 

Augustus was the eldest of a large family which num- 
bered seven sons and three dauo^hters. Their father, thoutrh 
unable to give them the best educational advantages, ear- 
nestly desired that they might have every opportunity that 
he could offer them for improving themselves intellectually. 
He strove to make his children appreciate the value of 
opportunity and of storing their minds with the wisdom 
that perisheth not as well as with that which is of this 
world. The evening salutation often was, "Get your 
books, now, and go to reading." None but the All-seeing 
Eye knows with how much earnestness one of those vounor 
minds applied itself to labor that was destined to be crowned 
with merited achievement. 


Had a better record been kept of his youthful triumphs 
over the trials of early school-days one might tell with 
more minute description of the speeches at the little school- 
house on the farm, taught by Mr. A. T. Livingston; or one 
might describe the young orator representing, perhaps, 
Patrick Henry or Mark Antony, from the sloping hill-sides 
addressing the woods before him instead of an impassioned 
mass of humanity. 

He was fond of mathematics and history, and seemed to 
studv his books with earnestness and aviditv. His father 
never had any trouble with him, and the boy from early 
youth showed his strength and nobility of character; he 
never did a mean or wicked act in the remembrance of 
her who was one of his most constant companions in early 
life. Among the number of those early playmates was 
the son of his old negro nurse, i\unt Anis. Felix was the 
name of the little negro who was the leader and the life of 
many of the childish games. His mother had been given 
to, Mary Paxton at her marriage, and proved herself faith- 
ful to her duty of helping rear the babies of the household. 
This old negro lived to a venerable age and died some years 
ago, her last days being brightened by the ministrations 
of the children for whom she had cared so tenderly in 

And thus Augustus Merrimon grew into manhood far 
from the false practices of city life, his mind plainly, 
soundly educated, his physical being well developed, and, 
above all, his soul nourished from imbibing the righteous 
characteristics of his father — righteous in the sense of mor- 
tal righteousness, inasmuch as there are none immaculate; 
no human life without its human frailties. He learned to 
labor — to believe it man's prerogative assigned him by his 
Creator — to labor intelligently and to believe it honest and 


honorable. Many a time he has spoken of those early 
days when on the top of wood loads he drove the oxen, or, 
like Burns, guided the plow as the earth gave way before 
the advancing shaft. With the same old book in hand he 
carried these duties through oftentimes, and thus was pre- 
paring himself surely, steadily and laboriously for the 
positions of honor and trust which, in after years, the peo- 
ple accorded him. It seems that he toiled that each 
to-morrow might find him more advanced in the path of 
industrious achievement than to-day. 

How often, when the boy had grown into the man, and the 
dark hair was silvered by the touch of age and care, and the 
noontide of life was merging into the peace of eventide — 
how often did his mind revert to those early days and to 
the rural scenes in which he spent his boyhood — to the 
spring at the foot of the hill-side, where the cool, clear water 
bubbled up, and at which he stooped to drink in boyish 
carelessness in the happy days of long ago. But of all the 
memories that clustered round that happy time only the 
angels could give us an accurate account of the dearest 
and tenderest — the memory of his mother — her to whom, 
it seems, he gave the wealth of his childish affection. He 
was her first-born — more of a companion to her than the 
others — and when she left him the sorrow of his heart was 
one that lay too deep for tears. That beloved face — the 
remembrance of her gentleness and virtues — the grave in 
the old garden near the house — who can measure the influ- 
ence of these things on the susceptible character of him 
who had never before known so great a loss? Who can 
tell but that her spirit was the guardian angel of his life, 
continually beckoning him onward and upward to the haven 
of eternal rest? Such precious memories dwelt with him 
in manhood's years and clustered around 



A green, lovely valley, a clear flowing stream, 

And monntains that lift up their verdure on high,— 

A home close to Nature where boyhood might dream 
Of the future with plans that all time would defy. 

Home of his boyhood, beloved and dear. 

Where life had no burdens to seek or to shun; 
Light-hearted but earnest, a day's work well o'er— 

Was this all his purpose ere set of the sun ? 

Who knows but that there in communings with self 

A purpose more broad than the day's work was made,— 

No great greed for power, nor search after pelf, 
But life's strong foundation most carefully laid. 

Dear scenes of his youth! In memory they lived: 

Holy thoughts of the loved and earth's lost may have been 

But the whispers of angels drawing him still 

To the Home free from parting and sorrow and sin. 

* Among his old papers, written dnring the year 1850, 
the following reverie was fonnd, and is copied here as an 
indication of the influence which his mother's memory 
exerted over the early efforts of her son: 


It was night. The sun had gone down behind the western hills and 
the light of^'day still lingered faintly around the tops of the mountains. 
The full and beautiful moon was now rising in the distant east in match- 
less splendor, as I quickly stepped from my father's portico, where I had 
been musing for some time, to spend a few minutes at the grave of my 
sainted mother. It was not far distant, not more than a hundred yards, 
for she lay just above the garden. I stepped on more slowly than when I 
started, for I felt that I was now approaching a spot sacred and dear. Ren- 
dered sacred by the ashes of the pious and rendered dear to me because 
it is the last resting-place of my loved and revered mother. I was soon at 
the foot of the grave, and oh, what feelings of solemnity came over me ! 

*In copvine: rav father's early compositions and in extracts from his diaries the 
oriii^als ha?e been followed very closelv. as will be seen from many niisspelled words 
?^S show\ery plaiJily that the boy's thought was greater than his knowledge of 
correct expression. 


I looked around, aud how befitting were all things to my feelings! All 
was silent as the mansion, — the cold and dark mansion my dear mother 
occupied. Not even a sigh could be herd in the foliage that overspread 
the sacred spot. All Nature seemed to mourn, it seemed to svmpathise 
with me, while I reflected on the loss I had sustained; — a loss, I mourn to 
say it, irreparable. As I stood there alone, unseen, except perhapse by her 
glorified spirit, (for I believe it still watches over me, at least the belief 
influences mj- actions), memor}- turned mournfully to the past. I was 
led to remember the pious lessons she had taught me; to remember the 
good morals she had instilled into my boyish mind. Yes, these recollec- 
tions came up vividly before me, and I thought of the affectionate and 
maternal manner in which she did it. O, I could almost see her as she 
took my little hands within hers and learned me to lisp m}- prayers to my 
great Creator; as she would sit with me at her knees and tell me how to 
become great and good. If ever I make a great man it must be ascribed 
to her pious instruction. I recollected all the past, and it swelled the 
scene of the then present. I thought of the night on which she left this 
for a better world; I could fanc}- I saw her angelic face as she slept her- 
self awa}' into an eternity of unuterable, inconceivable bliss. Yes, she 
was smiling when dying, if dying it might be called, and even when ruth- 
less death had done his work a calm and peaceful smile rested on her face. 
Oh, how angelic was her appearance, and how symbolic of her blessed 
company ! Though her bod}- was there, yet her soul was in heaven, freed 
from care and all pain. Though she looked thus beautiful, how awful, 
how indescribably awful were my feelings. I was conscious that I would 
soon see the form I had loved and revered no more forever; that my great 
counselor and instructor would never again commune with me. Yes, I 
was conscious that I had lost, irretrievably lost, the best gift of Heaven. 
All this come up vividly before me, and the night, the solemn stillness, 
seemed to chime in with my mournful solitude. I thought of that 
heavenly world where all is jo}- and happiness, and said in m\' heart, my 
mother is there! That was a joyous thought — a thought worth more than 
all the gems of earth. She was alone; no other person lay there with 
her, but she was not alone in Heaven; no, there are mj-riads there, and 
all join in anthems, loud anthems of praise to their great Creator and 
Redeemer. She is there with all the old prophets; she is with Wesly and 
Clark, with Whitfield and Chalmers; she is there with Coke and Asbury 
and millions more. It was a solemn night to me. As I turned to go 
away I thought that I, too, would one day lie down in the loansome, 
silent grave, that the silver moon would shine loansomely and sadl}' 
around my last resting-place, as it then did my mother's. 


And tlins was tlie youth of x\ugustus Merrimoii spent, 
in large measure, under the clear sky with Nature's great 
arms encircling him, drawing him, who may not say, to 
deep and earnest thoughts of life and its Divine source. 
Physically and mentally increasing in power, adding to his 
growing fund of information as well as fulfilling faithfully 
the duties at home and on the farm, earnest and indus- 
trious, he grew into manhood, building up a character at 
once strong and admirable. He was eager to learn, anxious 
to gain a broader field for zealous endeavor, and, having 
already mastered the lessons taught at the old school-house 
on the farm, it seems that he grasped with avidity the 
opportunity of attending Mr. James Norwood's school at 
Asheville, where he advanced rapidly; and so marked was 
his progress that his teacher gave him a written expression 
of approbation, stating that he was the most proficient of 
his pupils in the English course. 

The following selections from his diary, written about 
this time, give us glimpses of the boy's own thoughts and 
feelings at this statue of his career: 



Asheville Male x\cademy, 

January i6, 1850. 
"•Labor Omnia Vmcity 

Wednesday, Jan. 16. — To-day I enter upon the important duty of the 
study of Philosophy, and b}' the aid of Providence I intend to do honor 
to myself and my Teacher. I recited my first lesson in Natural Philoso- 

ph}' this evening, in connection with my esteemed classmate, ; and 

I am fully assured that we both thoroughl}' understood the subjects on 
which we were examined. The subjects were general definitions. 

Jan. I J. — I arose at 2 o'clock a. m. and read some Rules for acquiring 
knowledge which I approved very much, and doubt not that by paying 


attention to them that I will be greatl}- benefitted by them. Indeed, Mr. 
Watts seems to be an author who well understands the method of com- 
municating instruction as well as receiving it. 

My second task was to get a lesson in Stewart's Elements on the Mind. 
I am very safe in saying that I never w^as more interested in reading and 
studying any lesson before. It gave me more knowledge of the mind 
and the manner of discussing that subject than anything of the kind that 
I ever read before. I am well aware that my time was not lost, and I 
have the gratification to sa}' that the lesson was of much benefit to me. 

Thirdly-, I emplo3-ed from }^ past lo untill twelve in Arithmetic. This 
exercise consisted merely in reviewing rules of fractions. 

At 12 M. ate dinner; returned to School and at half past i P. M. I 
recited a lesson in Rhetoric. The lesson was on the Sublime in writing, 
and, as one would imagine, was one of no ordinary interest, setting forth 
at every step the manner of carrying on a subject of the Sublime kind. 
After reciting this lesson I spent the remainder of the evening in Arith- 
metic. Returned from school, took some exercise by making ni}^ fire, 

then indulged in social conversation with for some minutes. I am 

at present (8 o'clock) writing and will at ten retire to rest with the grati- 
fying thought of spending the da}- profitably. 

Friday, Jan. i8. — Recited one lesson in Stewart this morning of much 
importance. He shows in this chapter the utility of the study of the 
Humane Mind. The outlines of the argument are the following: First, 
he shows the influence of one science over another; then shows that it is 
the science which is derived from no other, and that all others emanate 
in a degree from it, showing at every step its great importance to a proper 
understanding of other Sciences. After this recitation I recited a lesson 
in Natural Philosoph3' on Attraction, the different kinds of Attraction, 
their influence, &c. This Science is one of deep interest, and for which 
I have a peculiar likeing. The subject is one of great importance to those 
who make observations on natural things. 

Saturday, Jan. ig. — Rose at 6 o'clock a. m. and read a chapter in Watts' 
works on the Mind, which I found to be very interesting. It had for its 
object the improvement of the mind by observation. He shows ver}' 
clearly that one may improve his mind in every place and in all condi 
tions. If we rightly appreciate his rules, I doubt not that we will do 
much for our own benefit, as well as for others. Then I reviewed the les- 
son which I recited on yesterday in Stewart's Elements on the Mind. 
After this I happened to fall in company with my highh' esteemed friend, 

. We walked some distance for exercise, in the meantime carrying 

on a conversation which concerned us more than others. 

This evening I have devoted myself to reading Rollins' Ancient History. 
I am reading it with much care, and takeing notes. 


Sieuday, Jan, 20. — Rose this morning at 6 and read a chapter in the 
Bible, then one in Watts, in which I was much delighted. I cannot fail 
to make a remark which I have made before; that this book is all that it 
professes to be and a little more. After reading this chapter I read some 
history, taking notes at the same time. I am fully convinced of the 
necesity of takeing notes. It not only strengthens the memor}-, but 
improves in a high degree one's language and mode of writing. I read 
two more chapters at 10 a. m., then read a part of the history of Egypt. 
This history does not fail, as one would expect, to interest the reader. 
Indeed the ancient Egyptians seem to be a people of extraordinary- 

I\[onday\ Jan. 21. — I got up at 3 A..M. and read two chapters in the Bible, 
then got my lesson in Stewart and read a chapter in Watts. After break- 
fast I went to the recitation room and recited my lesson at % past ten. 
My lesson was to show the necesity of the study of the humane consti- 
tution in order to guard against partial impressions which are made dur- 
ing youth and infancy. After this recitation I spent some time in Rhet- 
oric. This lesson was well digested. It was on beauty as one of the 
pleasures of taste. I then spent the remainder of the evening in sums, 
in relations of numbers. 

Tuesday, Jan. 22. — I arrose this morning at 4 and read a chapter in 
the Bible; then commensed my Stew'art lesson upon the following sub- 
ject, viz.: To show the necesity of a system of Logic, and to show the 
necesity of a knowledge of the humane constitution in order to la}' 
down a system of this kind. I recited, as is usual, at %. past ten a. m. 
I then commenced ni}^ lesson in Natural Philosophy, which embraced 
some of the particular propities of bodies. This study comes very natural 
to me, and I cannot account for it on no other principle than the follow- 
ing: That I have a peculiar taste for such speculations. I am to get my 
lesson in Stewart to-night, and also read a chapter in Watts. Nothing 
but constant application will make a man. I pra}- God to aid me in mak- 
ing one out of myself. I know that success awaits the persevering. I 
will try. I know I can; I will do something for my own improvement. 
Fame awaits no particular one; she is always ready to embrace persever- 
ance in au}^ person, and she never fails to give him that which fully pays 
him for all toil and self-denial. '''Labor Omnia Vincit.''' Time flies, O 
how swiftly. Improve the present for it is all 3'ou have; look not at the 
past, it is ful of sorrows; the future is not yours, and always be careful 
to know 3-our own interest. Defer nothing for the morrow which should 
be done to-day. 

IVednesday, 2j. — Once more hath the earth completed her daily revo- 
lution, and once more I find myself engaged in recording my acts of the 


hours which have just past. I arrose this morning at 5 o'clock and 
read a chapter in the Bible, then one in Watts, then conimensed ni}- Phi- 
losophy lesson, which was upon the subject of the theories of philoso- 
phers on the subject of Perception. 

I find in the study of Philosophy that much study is required, and that 
without close application one will make poor progress. These studies 
are of vast importance, too, not only as a stud}- for the purpose of acquire- 
ing a knowledge of the phenomena of the world, but also for the improve- 
ment in reasoning. To-night I reviewed my lesson in Stewart, and also 
looked carefully over another. I then read some in Watts, and closed 
the labors of the day by ciphering. The rules of Percentage were those 
on which I performed. I now lie down to take the necessary rest; may I 
rest securely and rise in the morning to again prosecute my studies, O God ! 

Sunday, Jan. 2j. — I arose this morning and after some necessary busi- 
ness I commensed the reading of the Ancient History of Egypt and 
Carthage. This indeed is wonderful. In some places we are filled with 
indignation; in others we are pleased with the great magnanimity which 
they possessed. Surel}- all things related with thos people are not so; 
indeed, some thing are impossible, much less performed. 

I spent the rest of the day in reading Moral Philosophy and social con- 
versation with some friends. One who has more time to spend than is 
necessary might spend it after the following mauer profitably: If you 
have no friend with whom to converse, apply 3'ourself to some useful 
book; if you have no book present observe what is near you — consider 
what it is, how 3'ou obtain knowledge from it, for what purpose it was 
made, by whom it was made; and if you have a friend with you talk to 
him concerning these things; attempt to explain, as far as possible, how 
and why you concider the objects from which you acquire knowledge. 

Much time is lost b}' persons who might improve themselves greatly. 
How man3^ do we see trifling away the precious hours of youth in follish 
talk, without improveing their minds in the least degree, nay, without even 
[knowing?] how they learn to talk and eat or do anything else. Improve 
the present, the future is unknown. 

Monday, Jan. 28. — After five this morning I commensed the incum- 
bent duties of the ensueing week. My first lesson for consideration is 
vStewart's remarks on the manner of acquireing knowledge. I hope to be 
prosperous during the ensueing week, feeling that I am under great 
necesity of improvement. This study (Stewart on the Mind) is one of 
no ordinary interest to one who has a desire for, or who has a mind 
adapted to such studies. The language is plain, and his style is generally 
of a pure, unbroken nature. Such works are not only calculated to give 
one the information which they profess, but also a style which the read- 
ing of many inferior would fail to do. 


In the evening I recited in Natural Philosopli_v, which never fails to 
interest nie in such a de.^ree that by looking [over] the lesson a time or 
two I get it. One may always find something to do. I never knew the 
hour yet that had nothing for men to do. Experience teaches that I never 
will. If I spend my time profltably I will no doubt reap the reward 

I would like very nmch to acquire a knowledge of Algebra and Geome- 
try; however 1 will have to do without these great improvements. This 
world seems to be full of knowledge, and I suppose the world to come 
will have much more; if so, I hope to be one who will enjoy a large share 
of it. Penseverence is necessary to a good education; this I have found 
by experience and know too, that without it the greatest genius cannot 
arrive at eminence. 

I am fully aware of the fact that one may devote his time so as to enable 
him to gain much general information on various subjects. I now spend 
a sufficiency of time to my studies, and also have some two hours ever}- 
day to spend in general research. I am fully aware, too, that devoting 
some time to other books that my mind will be better prepared to relish 
my daily studies. The mind should never be too much engrossed with 
one or two subjects, lest it grow dull and feeble very early. One should 
pay much attention to his intellectual powers, since by these he must rise 
or fall. 

Saturday, Feb. 2. — [After remarks on the day's occupation.] I know the 
necesity of constant application in order to become perfect in anything. 
Much labor is required to make a perfect mechanic, much to make a good 
merchant, much to make a good lawyer in that nothing can be accom- 
plished without great labor and close application. If then all these are 
requisite, wh)- put off the time of commensemeut so long? If we com- 
mense now, we will only become the wiser and reap more of the paltry- 
which this world can give. It will fit us too for the world to come. Yes, 
to enjoy more of the pleasures of the invisible I Am. All these, nay 
more, bid us improve each moment as it passes by. Then let us press on 
toward the prize and never be contented untill it is won. We ought to 
consider that what we gain now is not to be gained one day and lost the 
next, but it is to give us standing among our fellow-men, and is to pre- 
pare us for more enjoyment of the heavenly world, should we be so happ}' 
as to get there. 

Sunday., Feb. j. — Much improvement may be made by reading good 
books though they are not strictly scientifical; indeed without them, I 
am persuaded that we will not render scientific books profitable. One 
should not be cramped up by scientific studies and not read others which 
are allmost of equal interest. 


Tuesday^ Feb. 5. — I was ready for business this morning at 6. I recited 
in Stewart, as usual before dinner, and in Nat. Philosophy after. 
Both of these lessons were interesting. I also read some other books 
this morning. This I think to be of much importance. It not only gives 
one good language; but it proves very serviceable in acquireing a general 
stock of knowledge. A general knowledge of things is necessary. One 
cannot study every thing seperately. He must therefore find out much 
by the reading of misselaneous books, which have to a great or less 
degree something of these various studies connected with them. 

Nothing is calculated to make a more ready man than reading. Much 
reading though, without digestion is worse, if possible, than none, as 
we gain such a slight knowledge of things that we are led into dangerous 
mistakes frequently. Therefore one should read much and digCot well 
all he reads. If he reads but little and digests well, it will be of much 
importance to him. 

Wednesday, Feb. 6. — I was up and dressed by jA after 6 this morning, 
after having taken about 5 hours sleep. I prepared my lessons and recited 
as usual. Both were interesting. To-night I have spent some time in 

conversation with ; I have also been prepareing some remarks which 

I expect to deliver on the Mexican War. This is a subject of general 
dispute, and it is not even supposed that the question will be decided with 
much acquracy, owing to the very desultory arguments that will doubtless 
be made. Much may be said; indeed, one may talk all night and then 
remain where he left off. It is a dispute which has received much atten- 
tion b3- all the great men of the Nation. 

Thursday, Feb. 7. — This morning called to my memory the sad scene 
of this day was a year ago. I shall never again pass over another so sad a 
day as it was, for that day my dear mother left this world for a better. She 
now sings the Allelujahs of Angels, and will throughout eternity. May 
I meet her there. 

Saturday, Feb. g. — I arose this morning at '/^ past five and commensed 
imediately the business of the da}-. I in the first place read some of 
description of Cicero, given by Dr. Olin. I then visited the Clerk's Office, 

at which place I found my friend . From him I procured a set of Dr. 

Brown's Philosophy on the Mind, which I intend reading in conexion 
with Stewart; I also read Upham. I hope from the three that I will be 
able to get a good knowledge of the human mind. I spent some time in 
conversation to day with Mr. N. W. Woodfin on the subject of Education. 

In the evening I wrote some compositions, not for the purpose of exhib- 
iting them, but only to improve my style of writing. This is, no doubt 
the best plan on which one can fall to improve his style and language. 
While there is hope none ever linger; when, however, this mortal cheerer 
vanishes the last gleam of life will soon be extinct. It supports all men; 


the savage as \vell as the Christian. In a word, it is the balm of life. 
Few men, indeed none, ever live without it. He would know the cer- 
taintv of things at an hour when he was not prepared for it. Hope is the 
anticipation of some good, it therefore gives one time to reflect if he 
should be foiled in his wish. 

Sunday, Feb. lo. — I arose this morning at the usual hour, and after 
some necessary transactions, I comniensed the business of the day. I 
spent some time in reading Watts on the mind, some time in Ollin's 
travels, some in Rollins' History. All these are ver}- interesting, but not 
near so nmch as another work I read this evening on the immortality of 
the Soul. This was very interesting not only as a literary disquisition, 
but also as establishing the reality of the immortality of the Soul. The 
soul will, beyond doubt, live after this lump of clay dissolves. Yes, 
beyond the flaming skies. Nothing should give more pleasure than the 
thought of living in a world to come. Life is what all love; what all con- 
tinually grasp after. Ease, too, is what they desire in connexion with 
life. We understand by Revelation that those who liv^e as they should 
here will be admitted into Heaven, at which place joys forever dwell. If, 
however, he transgresses a law prescribed by the Deity he must forever 
sink into a pit of never-ending pain. These thoughts are sufficient to 
engage the attention of all; but we find thousands w^ho would rather 
spend what time they have for probation in uselessness than to attempt 
to seek the happiness in store for them by their perseverence. 

Tuesday, Feb. 12. — I spent some time reading Rollins' Histor}-. This 
is a ver}' interesting work, and, indeed, the history of the ancients is 
alwa3'S interesting. It gives the description of all the avaricious men of 
the ancient world, and also the manner in which they gained their power. 
From this history-, too, we learn many good laws, and we learn at the 
same time error of many, and thereby we are prepared to shun them. I 
recited as usual. To-night I have spent some time in reading Watts, 
Brown and Ollin. These are all interesting Books. I hope to receive a 
large fund of information from them. My present course is one which I 
think will prove beneficial to me if properl}' attended to. I do not intend 
to fail to give due attention. I intend to make use of every power in my 
reach to improve. 

Saturday, Feb. 16. — I spent this day in the following manner, viz.: I 
first read some in Rollins' Histor}' of the Ass3'rians, then wrote to my 
Father, then read some of Ollin's Travels, then finished m}- composition, 
then read history and Travels again. In short, I spent the da}^ in read- 
ing and meditation. All these things are necessary for the accomplish- 
ment of one, nay more, for men frequently live long lives and spend them 
at Science, then fall far short of perfection. Man must be considered as 
an imperfect being within himself. No one knows all things; no one 



will know all things. It was not intended b}- the Deity that man should, 
for if he did no doubt he would soon get above himself as one man gets 
above another in point of property or respect. We should endeavor, 
though, as far as possible, to acquire a good knowledge of every improve- 
ing every good thing that comes before us, 

Sunday, Feb. ij. —This morning I commensed the business of the day 
very earh- by reading History and Travels. In the da}- I read consider- 
ably in the Bible, wrote my composition, and spent some time in compo- 
sition as well as conversation. All these acquirements are very benefi- 
cial. They all tend to improve the mind and prepare it for the walks of 
manly life. 

Tuesday, Feb. ig. — This evening I read m3' composition on the Influ- 
ence of Anger. After the close of the school I spent some time in read- 
ing Porter's Analysis. 

How vain are the attempts of man to gain knowledge without much 
study and self-denial. If one would be wise he must [not] cease at diffi- 
culties. His overcoming one will actuate him to mount that which fol- 
lows. Many for a want of perseverance have died in obscurity. Many 
who had good advantages, through indolence have suffered themselves to 
be overcome by trifling circumstances, and thereby laid themselves liable 
to the censure of mankind. Perseverance alone can place a man above 
the vulgar. All who have ambition therefore should yield to many sacri- 
fices in order to carry out any ennobling principle which he may espouse. 

Saturday, Feb. 23. — Owing to some domestic disadvantage, I did not 
rise this morning untill da3'light. After I rose I commensed the business 
of the day b}' reading a chapter in Rollins' Histor}', then one in Ollin's 

I took a small fowling hunt walk with my esteemed friend, . After 

walking enough to take good exercise we returned. We indulged freely 
in conversation during our walk. Sometimes speaking of literary- sub- 
jects, then of domestic happiness. It was quite an interesting and I 
hope a profitable walk. 

This evening, a little before sun down, myself and took a walk in 

the direction of my home. As I approached in sight of the mountains 
which I could see from home, pleasurable feelings passed through my 
mind. Home is the happiest place for any one. One may become addicted 
to being from home, and not care about returning imediateh', but there 
still exists some thoughts of childhood in the mind though it is approach- 
ing manhood. There is something that endears the place where near and 
dear relatives live and sleep; one of whom, too, sleeps in the dust. 

Sunday, Feb. 24. — To-day's reading has been so desultory that I cannot 
note it with much regularity. I have read extensive!}- in the Bible, in 
Rollins' Histor}-, Ollin's Travels, Porter's Analysis, and various other 


books. From them all I have received much instruction. The Bible I 
read most. I read a considerable part of the Revelation. This [is] truly 
a beautiful picture; indeed, it in many places amounts to sublimity. How 
great the difference between a common composition of the present day, 
and that of the Bible. It was much greater in the days of those men who 
wrote it. This seems to be a strong proof of the authenticity of the 
Scriptures. If those men had had the advantages of which we are now 
possessed, what kind of works would the sacred word have been? It 
seems as if there is something superhuman about them. So, simple and 
yet so powerful. Who will dispute their beauty? 

It seems a little awkward to turn from the word of God to man. It 
looks a little preposterous. There is such an immense difference. The 
History, however, that I read is one of superior worth. It instructs me 
in the maners, customs, Laws and actions of the ancients. It gives great 
lessons of morality and virtue. The st3-le of the author, the subjects are 
all calculated to impress us with the deep uecesit}' of adopting some 
things and rejecting others. The history of Cyrus never fails to infuse 
the mind with qualities of the most sublime character. That great man 
seemed to be the embodinient of all the graces and accomplishments of 
his da}-. Cambyses is nearly the extreme on the other hand, few men 
possessed a more rash and obstinate temper than he. 

Books of Travel, too, are of unquestionable worth. They give us the 
minute description of the old countries; the various situations, and the 
man}' architectural wonders. They enable us to explain more fully all the 
fabulous history of the ancients. All persons should, as far as possible, 
acquire a general knowledge of all good and well written books. Of good 
books, as they will store their mind with that which few possess, true 
knowledge; of well written, as they will enable them to improve their 
own style. Indeed without this general knowledge, we could not make 
so great a display in oratory and composition as we do. This is perhapse 
one reason why the ancients did not effect more than they did in a short 
time. One may learn something from everything. The little pebbles of 
sand under his feet may teach him a lesson of which perhapse he never 
thought of before. 

Thursday, Feb. 28. — To-day has been dark and gloomy. To-night we 
had a gust of wind and rain. The beautiful pale moon is now shining 
and reminds me of the softness of gone-by days. These words strike 
deeply on my ear. A precious Mother, who a little more than a year ago 
doated on me, now lies silent in the tomb. The moon passes along and 
she lies in august composure. Her imortal [soul] has put on incorrup- 
tion. My heart is full while I write. I often think of her and am allmost 
forced to weep. But she is gone; yes, gone to dwell with Angels and 
God. May I live the life she did and be prepared to lie solemly and 


seriously and composedly while the beautiful moon passes on in her 
regular course. This is the last night of the second month in the year 
1850. Shall I have another lost friend before another February rolls 
round, or shall I be lost to kind friends? The Deity only knows. O God, 
save me, m}- friends and the world. 

Saturday, March 2. — The extra court for this countv adjourned to-day 

at 12 M. I understand that Judge has dispatched business with his 

usual speed, and that many cases, of importance, have been tried. Judge 

is really a fine-looking gentleman. He seems to be very affable. 

Such men are calculated to do much good for themselves and the pul^lic. 
Several law3'ers have been in attendance this week. 

Monday, March 4. — To-night, according to the recommendations of 
Prof. N., I have taken up Thompson's Seasons. This is a beautiful little 
Poem — one which I hope is calculated to elevate my ideas of nature. 
To-night I have been reading some in Ollin's Travels. The chapter this 
evening has been one of rather more than ordinary interest. It gives a 
description of Mount Sinai and the mountains and valleys near to it. 
Truly this is an awfully sublime place. Dr. O. spreaks in high terms of 
its sublimity now, and what nmst it have been when the Great Jehovah 
was there ! Surely more terrible than all earth clashed together ! 

Our Town is quite silent to what it was last week. The court is over 
and the countrymen have returned to their domestic habitations. The 
beautiful spring has dawned on us once more; since this time last year 
how many millions have changed this life for eternity? A solemn silence 
prevails. No one dares to answer the question. And ere another such 
season shall appear we may, like others, be sleeping in the cold and lonely 
grave. God save us and the world, for in Thy hands are the issues of 
life and death. 

Tuesday, March 12. — To-night I received my new Stewart's Philosophy 
on the Human Mind. It is a beautiful Book, and I hope it will be of 
great benefit to me in future. I find I will have to desist from my 
general reading, owing to the requisite time I must spend in reading 
Studies. I dislike this very much, but I must prepare for the ensuing 
examination. This is perhapse the last session I will go to school, and I 
wish to make good use of my time. Time is precious; it is short with us 
and we should therefore make a proper and profitable use of it. One 
may be constantly employed and not improve a great deal. This [is] 
owing to a want of method and regularity. One should endeavor not 
only to read and think a heap, but digest all he reads and thinks. A 
great fault now prevalent is owing to this. Man}' who consider them- 
selves advanced are mere pests to society and do much more harm to 
mankind than good. It is indeed seldom that we find a man who knows 


fullv his duty, and even when we find one who knows it, he does rarely 
perform it. 

Wednesday, March /j.— To-night I have spent the principle part of my 
time in reviewing vStewart. "Review and repetition," says Lock, "are 
necessary to the good understanding of a Book." I will now look over 
my lesson for to-morrow, and get a Grammer Lesson and retire to rest. 
Rest is quite necessary to the intellect as well as the body. Sad expe- 
rience has taught us to know that too great exertions of the Mind are 
injurious. If one keeps his intellectual powers constantly engaged, no 
doubt he will reap the bitter consequences when it is too late to remedy 
them. Thousands of cases attest this fact. Men who are constantly 
phisically engaged are greatly wrought upon by fatigue in their declining 
years, unless this employment has been of a very moderate kind, indeed 
then relaxation is necessary. We find by experience that the mind is the 
same way. Men who do little else than study, become feeble not only in 
mind but in body also. I find though that in the majority of cases men 
are disposed to give their minds too much rest; many times we see them 
neglect what is really necessary in this manner. Both extremes should 
be guarded against. 

Friday, March /j. — I have spent some time to-night in reading Stew- 
art. I also fortunately laid my hand on a little book which gave a his- 
tory of some of the remarkable artists of the world. Hiram Powers was 
the character of which I read. He seems to have been at one time a boy 
in verv indigent circumstances, but as genius usually does, he outstripped 
all opposition and attained a high distinction. 

Saturday, March i6. — I found myself prepared for business at the 
usual hour. I commensed by reading from Stewart on review. This is 
beyond doubt one of the most interesting works I ever read or studied. 
It strengthens my reasoning powers, gives me a knowledge of the Human 
Mind and greatly improves my language and expression. There are few- 
books that we will find, which have all these combined. So few, that 
perhapse no man has found a book of more real soundness, than Stewart 
One may be disposed to think it is owing wholy to my present connection 
with it, but I pay particular attention to it in ev[e]ry respect, and at the 
same time read other books of the same kind on the same subject. 

Sunday, March //. — I prepared for the business of to-day at the usual 
hour. I read some in the Bible, some in Stewart, some in history and 
some in Porter's Analysis, as well as Thompson's Seasons. At ri a. M. I 
went to Church and he[a]rd the Rev. W. Kerr preach a good sermon. After 
returning from church, I spent some time in conversation with various 
young gentlemen. At night I went to Church in company with my friend 
W. R. Welch. We listened with great pleasure at another sermon from 


the same minister that preached this mornino;. He seemed to preach, if 
auy difference, with more energx- than in the morning. 

Tuesday, 3/arch ig. — Tonight is pleasant. The new moon shines 
brightly, the sky is clear and all nature harmony. We should make our- 
selves contented with our present condition, knowing that we mvist in a 
few years, at farthes[t] desert the s[c]enes we now behold. 

Thursday, MarcJi 21. — Last night I retired before the usual hour with 
the expectation of being at business this morning sooner than usual. Sure 
enough I found m3-self erect and stretching abo[u]t 5 o'clock, but to my 
chagrin I found my fire utterly extinguished. I think that I will study bet- 
ter by going to bed at 10, and rising at five; this will leave 7 hours for sleep 
and is as much as nature requires. I hav'c been accustomed to sit up verv 
late; but I find that such is not the best plan. 

Friday, March 22. — This being the evening for debate at the Academy 
I did not attend to my usual night studies. 

I find that disputation is quite interesting and improving. It prepares 
one for self possession in speaking in public. Many men have take[n] a 
rise in debating societys that raised them to considerable eminence. Upon 
the whole we mus[t] consider them very useful. 

Thursday, March 28. — Owing to the uncommon inclemenc}- of the 
weather, and having no wood with which to make a fire hastely, I lay in 
bed until daylight came. This is what I very much dislike to do. Punctu- 
ality I have adopted as one of my characteristics, and I think it to be one 
of superior worth. After making a fire and washing I commensed the 
duties that I last night laid off to do. I got my Stewart lesson and recited 
at the usual hour. In the afternoon I wrought in figures. After return- 
ing from school I prepared fuel for tonight and in the morning which 
gave me good exercise. I then read some in Thompson, some in Todd 
and spent a few moments in meditation before supper. After supper I 
commensed reviewing. 

Thursday, April <^. — Commensed the business of the day at daylight. 
After washing, shaving and dressing I commensed getting my Stewart 

After school in compliance with Prof. Norwood, I accompanied him to 
his residence, with some other young gentlemen, and took tea. We had 
quite a pleasant time. I returned imediately after tea and resumed the 
business that lay before me. 

Saturday, April jj. — I arose this morning some time after daylight 
and read my last lesson in Todd's Students' Manual. I have now finished 
reading this little Vol. and must say that it has afforded me much 
that is new and interesting. I, after breakfast, attended court for about 
two hours. The Judge ordered the prisoner, who had been guilty of an 
awful crime, to the bar. After vSheriff of the Countv brought him for- 


ward the judge with some very feeling introductory remarks, exhorted 
the .prisoner to put his trust in his Heavenly father; he then pronounced 
sentence of death upon him, and said "May God have nierc}' on you." 
The dignified old man was brought to tears. He could not speak without 
stamering, he was so full. All present seemed to feel the solemness of 
the scene. After viewing the scene, I returned to my room and got some 
of nu' review lessons. 

Satuiday, April 20. — I have spent the day in conversation and reading. 
I have read extensively in the Writings of Lord Bacon. I find them to 
be of much importance. I hope to have it in my power to read them. 
The Books contain matter that evry person should know. Those who 
attempt to acquire anything like a general stock of knowledge will find 
no book better calculated for their improvement than the one of which I 
am now writing. I this evening commensed my speech by laying down 
the subject. I hope to be able to do it justice, though it is one of vast 
magnitude. I rely entirely on my own speculations for success as I have 
not been so fortunate as to acquire an}- disquisition directly connected 
with the subject. 

Sunday^ April 21 . — I have red in various books toda}-, mostly in the 
Bible. I went to Church at 11 a. m. and herd the Rev. Wm. Kerr preach 
a very good sermon. I spent some time this evening in company with 

. He came and supped with me, and went with me to church tonight, 

where I herd a good sermon from the same minister that preached this 

Friday, April 26. — After dinner I returned to school and asked per- 
mission to go home. My kind Teacher granted my request and I 
returned to my room. After preparing I started towards home. I arrived 
at home a little before sundown and was greeted by m}' dear father 
Brothers and Sisters. 

Saturday^ 2j. — This morning I rose at an early hour and prepared to 
spend the da3- pleasurably. I first went with my father and some hands 
to the farm on the road and there enjoyed the pleasure of seeing them 
ditch for some time. A friend who was present invited me to go with 
him into the woods for the purpose of killing squirrels. He furnished 
nie with a fowling piece and off we went. Unfortunately we failed to 
bring anything within our grasp. I returned and spent the rest of the 
da}' in company- with my father and family. We conversed much and 
pleasantly. I did not forget to read considerabl}-. I sat up ver}- late. 

Simday, 28. — Toda}' I spent with my friends until 12 m. At this time 
I was under the necessity of starting to the place at which I now am. 

Wednesday, May i. — After school I came to my room and conmiensed 
my speech for the examination and close of the session. I hope by 
divine assistance to make a good speech. 


The speech above referred to is, I presume, the one 
inserted below, and from its diction and sentiments it will 
be seen that he had earnestly applied himself to his books, 
and had endeavored to profit by such opportunities for 
intellectual advancement as were afforded him. 

The first public speech I ever delivered or wrote. 

Speech to be delivered at the close of the Spring and summer session 
of Asheville Male Academy, ending June 14th, 1850. 


Respkcted Audience:— Aspiring to perfection the mind of man is 
ever progressive. It had its origin in the Deity and its irradiating influ- 
ence is felt throughout the world. Trained in the school of science and 
conscious of its own superiority, it disdains to rest in obscurity. Sur- 
rounded by the mysterious mazes of nature, it combines all its invincible 
energies to contemplate and decipher them in all their original splendor. 
Destined by its divine Creator to high and undying enjoyments, it is ever 
its province to solve the mystic problems of the instructive past; to muse 
upon the decaying interests of the passing present, and to look forward 
with philosophic eye into the eventful future. To know what has been, 
what is, and what is to be, is to possess one of the grandest attributes of 
perfection, and the onward march of mind during the lapse of six thou- 
sand years, sufficiently evinces to us that this is its prominent desire. 
Though in the wise organization of nature mind is endowed with this 
ambitious property, yet, omnescience is placed be3'ond its matchless grasp, 
and as present associations pass away new ones present themselves for 
our consideration. Doubtless the ancient Philospher, as he sat musing 
over his splendid achievments, thought to himself that the exalting title 
of perfection was to crown his own laureled brow; but behold how glo- 
riously deceived! Look for a moment at what has been accomplished 
since he went down to the silent shades of oblivion. Minerva is now 
majestically seated on the throne of wisdom and the muses worship at her 
sacred shrine. The world looks with amazement at the unparalleled pro- 
gress of the Arts and Sciences, and the happy influence of the revolutions 
of the great moral and political empire of man. Ignorance and error are 
dethroned and intelligence and freedom now occupy their places, — shining 
forth with all the eff"ulgence of the noonday sun. How vast the change! 


how sublimely progressive the Mind! Though such grand results have 
marked its career, we are now only prepared to see dimly through the 
shadowy vista of the great future the inexhaustible sources of discovery 
and speculation. In the improvment of mind consists the happiness of 
man; for his very existance depends on it. To understand his physical 
organization and immortal nature, his domestic relations and civil asso- 
ciations, his past history and future fortunes, requires the exertion of his 
noblest and most divine powers. Strike from existence the attribute of 
mind and you destroy that boasted resemblance between man and his 
great Creator, you destroy all that is great and noble; you destroy a gem 
that attracts the attention of two worlds. 

After all these considerations, what more appropriate theme could 
engage your attention than the progress of the Human Mind: — a subject 
that reaches back to the beginning of time and which extends through 
all futurity. Divert from 3'our attention the pleasing engagments of 
the present and permit 3'ourselves to be transported on the swift wings of 
thought into the desolate regions of the past, and there ruminate amid 
the windings of that mighty labyrinth of knowledge, whose basis is 
founded in reason, and whose glittering pinnacle rises above the compre- 
hension of man. 

Let us pass in respectful silence that long period of man's existance 
after his banishment from Paradise until he characterized himself as the 
master of the world, b}- laying the foundation of Government, of the Arts 
and Sciences and Literature. Though we pass this period unnoticed, let 
us remember that much was done during that time towards rearing the 
mighty fabric, which we are about to consider: let us remember that then 
it was the mind received that impress that characterizes now, w'hich ever 
has and ever will; — a love of knowledge and freedom. Then come down 
to that glorious era in the histor}' of the world when man first conceived 
the idea of transmitting to posterity his name, emblazoned with all the 
grandeure and importance of his noble achievments; when he, becoming 
werried with gazing unintelligibl}- on the amazing wonders of the mate- 
rial world, beheld the necessit}' of intellectual improvement, and for the 
first time made a transmission of his knowledge, by inscribing it on the 
walls of the eternal Pyramids of Egypt; which themselves teach a lesson 
not yet learned by man. Concentrate evry power of your fancy, and 
with an air of solemnity, fix them for a moment on ancient Eg)'pt, "the 
land of Science and sacred recollections." In that land, rendered sacred 
by the undying and ever beneficial achievments of its illustrious inhab- 
itants, the original architect of human happiness and grandure, laid the 
corner stone of that majestic Temple of Wisdom, that is allready reared to 
a height that is seen from the uttermost parts of the world and which is 
destined to rise higher and higher, and shine brighter and brighter as end- 


less ages roll away. The knowledge which that Nation possessed of the 
Arts and Sciences, Literature, Painting, Sculpture and Architecture will 
ever be held in hoi}' remembrance by the Moralist and Philanthropist. 
They point to it as the beginning of intellectual history and with admira- 
tion, trace from it, amid the mighty revolutions of devouring time, the 
present high and unexampled state of human perfection. She chose to 
write her histor}- on stone and there it stands, braving the corroding tooth 
of time and there it will stand forever. Her stupendous pyramids, the 
repositories of her dead, her towering oblisks and magnificent temples 
will cease to exist only with time, as living monuments of the greatness 
and grandeure of their ambitious authors. But notwithstanding all mer- 
ited greatness, she suffered the delusive phantom of imaginary perfection 
to pervade her divinely favored domain, and transform into the devotees 
of Bacchus those who before kneeled at the shrine of Minerva. And alas 
for Egypt! alas for the world, her luxur}- and dissipation, the high road 
to ruin, introduced among her proud inhabitants direful discord, the 
inseperable concomitant of war and intellectual desolation. Bloody 
Mars, the stern avenger of insulted genius, laid hold of her boasted 
powers; — struck the deadl}- blow and she was learned egypt no more. For- 
tunately for mankind intellectual improvment, like an ever-flowing 
stream, is onward in its march, and though at times it moves at an imper- 
ceptible pace, 3-et, at others it breaks forth with all the grandure of a fount 
gushing from the earth, or the sublimity of the bursting forth of volcanic 
fires in all their spontaneous and original force. Though the intellectual 
fire that began to burn with such glowing luster on the Egyptian altars 
had gone out, it was allready rekindling in another nation to burn with 
redoubled [brilliancy?] and illume, not only its own proud clime, but 
the wide extent of a benighted world. Greece, noble Greece, the land 
of the Poet and the home of the Philosopher had already caught the end- 
less strain, and as the bright star of Egyptian glory was about to set in 
the gloom of an eternal night, she sang a mournful requiem to its untimely 
departure. Animated b}' the unparalleled example of intellectual improve- 
ment placed before her, she combined all the unconquerable energies of 
her mighty genius to imitate it. And how well did she accomplish this 
ennobling design? Go seek an answer amid the desolate shades of her 
classic halls, and a hollow murmur breaks forth, from within their silent 
recesses, be thou the umpire of our departed greatness; — then turn with 
solemn and pleasant emotion to behold the millions of libraries that now 
deck the shining walls of the literary world, and ask the question, whence 
came this world of learning? From all sides you hear the long and loud 
response, Greece learned Greece is the high source from whence it 
originated. No where else in all the bright realms of ancient learning do 
we find such a concentration of genius to unfold the hidden beauties of 


creation and reduce to elegance and refinement the degraded state of 
fallen man. When she had rivaled the grandure of Egypt and beheld her- 
self the literar}- mistress of the world, new incentives presented them- 
selves to her enchanted view, and she, ever ambitious of distinction and 
her cnvn happiness, persued them with redoubled vigor until she won for 
herself a reputation that will live until the wheels of time shall cease to 
move. But, though Greece had arrived at such a high degree of emi- 
nence, and had given the mind an impulse that astonished the world, she 
was not alone in the preeminent struggle for intellectual improvment. 
Tliough she was predominant, yet proud Rome, "the imperial city of the 
Cesars, " had seen and felt its irradiating influence; had listened with 
jealous emotion at the unbounded sway of its distinguished votaries, and 
had begun the pleasing task that lends new aid at every step and leads us 
on to the summit of desired glor\'. She did not rival the majestic great- 
ness of Greece in literature and learning, yet she characterized herself 
with her as the most superb nation of antiquit}", and whenever we con- 
template the history of the one we are insensibly led to consider that of 
the other. Who can conceive how far these nations have had influence 
in establishing the moral and literary character of mankind at the present 
time? Where is he, having before him the history of our literar3' insti- 
tutions that will not say their productions form an important part in a 
liberal education; nay, that will not say we derive from them much of 
our domestic and political knowledge? In them we behold the original- 
it}- of untutored mind, and we contemplate them with higher admira- 
tion, as they are but the beginning of a stream that is grown into a mighty 
ocean; that is destined to cover the world with its balmy waters. The 
works of the immortal Cicero, Horace and Virgil, and their illustrious 
contemporaries will cease to be admired by all lovers of original genius, 
only when this might}- universe shall vacate infinity and the aspiring 
mind return to its eternal source. Although mind had braved all oppo- 
sition that tended to impede its onward march, although like the proud 
Eagle of the majestic Alps, she had soared beyond the vision of ordinar}- 
mortals she was to encounter that enemy, which but for the unseen influ- 
ence of a few solitary votaries, would have sunk her in that night on 
which no lovel}- day ever dawns. 

The downfal of the Roman Empire, the military mistress of every 
nation, was the direful harbinger of that long period of physical and 
intellectual commotion that marks the histor}- of the world. The porten- 
tous clouds of red ruin were seen hastening from the north to the south 
of Europe, where they were to dispel their firy fury and la}^ in desolation 
the once blissful abodes of Orpheus and the Muses. Sauguin Mars, with 
his barbarous hosts, made the golden temple of learning the awful seat of 
war, and drenched the halls of science with the noble blood of their royal 


inmates. For the long space of a thousand years intellectual darkness 
pervaded the world. The glowing fires that blazed on the altars of Greece 
and Rome had ceased to burn. The Poets, Orators, and Philosophers 
were hushed in death and their bones were bleaching on the soil where 
they once taught. No light cheered the drooping head of science, except 
the occasional appearance of some giant genius, that, like the passing 
comet shined the brighter because of the surrounding darkness, and soon 
faded from the excited view to be seen no more. All bespoke ruin and 
in the language of the immortal Milton: 

Earth felt the wound: and nature from her seat 
Sighing through all her works, gave sighs of wo 
That all was lost. 

But all was not lost, no! Another mighty struggle was to be made. 
Although the Promethean spark that lighted the intellectual firmament 
had grown dim, and learning had shaken the mists from her pinions for 
a long and perhapse eternal flight, mind unconquerable mind was to 
make another effort to regain her fallen grandure. The cloistered homes 
of the Literati that survived the dreadful storm were now to be found. 
Constantinople, the place of their refuge was made the seat of carnage 
and they were dispersed through the European Continent to continue that 
march which had almost ceased for ten centuries. In this might}' con- 
flict for predominence the mind was victorious; — she resumed her directive 
sway; — the dark clouds of raven despair began to dispel and the radient 
sun of the intellectual firmament to shine with redoubled splendor. Then 
was a new era in the history of the world. The past was made the basis 
of the mighty superstructure of intellectual perfection that now graces 
the existance of man. 

Who does not contemplate with the highest emotion the swift march of 
mind during the last three centuries? Who, that is acquainted with the 
records of the past, does not believe that it has made more than a propor- 
tionate progress? It is admitted that the more the mind expands the 
more are its capabilities; but taking this into consideration, has not its 
march been more than a ratio? Behold what it has done, what it is doing 
and ask yourselves the question whether this be true or not? So vast 
has been its progress, that we might spend the thread of life and then fail 
to tell half the wonders. We might refer to the reform in Philosophy 
and Literature; we might behold the improvment in Mechanics, and 
point to the majestic ship as she proudly ploughs the stormy billows of 
the might}^ Ocean, and the steam engin that propels her, we might look 
at the telegraphic wires that conduct news from one end of our conti- 
nent to the other with the speed of lightning; we might look at the mill- 
ions of twinkling spheres that shine in ethereal infinity; point them out. 


one by one, tell their distances sizes and revolutions, we might point to 
the brilliant sun and tell you his magnitude and weight, and then fail 
to tell half of what has been done within the short space of three hun- 
dred years. Brighter and brighter has beeii the history of man since the 
beginning of the sixteenth century and brighter it will continue to be. 
New discoveries are making daily; — new wonders are constantly discov- 
ered by the penetrating eye of mind. Its happiness consists in its prog- 
ress and it is now beginning to see and know its unbounded power. 
Three thousand years ago man was in Egypt beginning his grand career. 
Then his mind was baren, untutored; he was unconscious of the divine 
spark which he possessed; but behold how changed! Nature has assumed 
a new aspect. He now no longer beholds the wonders of creation, as the 
untamed beasts of the forests, no,— he now beholds himself the undesputed 
master of the boundless universe. He now knows his divinity; — he now 
knows that his happiness consists in approaching the perfection of his 
great Creator. x\nd what has been the cause of all this? Man's strength 
alone could not do it; There is another higher, nobler, a more heavenly 
cause. That holy volume of truth that was thundered from Sinai's sacred 
top, amid the awful convulsions of nature, is the light that shines with 
meridian splendor in directing man in the high road to happiness. We 
have thus contemplated mind from its infant state to the present time. 
What a glorious, what a sublime march! Where is he that does not 
rejoice that he lives in the nineteenth century to behold the present state 
of human grandure? that he sees the glorious sun of truth rising to set 
no more. We have seen that perfection is the desire of mind, that it has 
been progressive, that it is progressive, and judging from the past what 
mav we expect in future? The present is pregnant with theories that are 
soon to be realized; new ones are beginning to germinate and sooner or 
later will deck the records of the past as the discoveries of Newton and 
Fulton. Man ploughs the billowy Ocean; plays with the lightnings of 
Heaven, measures the plannets and weighs the sun; how long then will 
it be until the unseen wonders of the ocean and the bowels of the earth 
shall be explored? Who dares to say this will not be done; — nay, who 
dares to say that man will not ride in the etherial sky as he now does the 
great waters? Mind is a spark of the Deity: — it is immortal and we have 
seen that it is desirous of nothing but perfection. What then are we to 
conclude will be its happiness, when in the language of the Poet it shall 
have passed: — 

The flaming bounds of space and time; 
The living throne the sapphire blaze, 
Where angels tremble as the\' gaze? 

Are we not to conclude that it is still onward; that it is still approaching 
that perfection which is perfect, and though it will live throughout eter- 


nity, it will still be making new discoveries, demonstrating new truths, see- 
ing new glories and enjo^-iug new happiness? This is our conclusion. It 
is onward and upward ! How great then is man, how great that spark of 
Divinity, that has been kiudleing for the long round of six thousand years 
and which will continue to shine brighter and brighter throughout the 
long ages of vast Eternity! 

The father's moderate means did not admit of the son's 
being sent to college, and, such being the case, Augustus, 
with the determination that characterized many of his 
later actions, and which was strong enough to surmount 
the difficulties that beset him in many ways, procured a 
position as assistant to his former teacher, Mr. Norwood, of 
Asheville, and was thereby enabled to continue his own 
mental training while endeavoring to train the minds of 
others. He was not shut off from difficulties and tempta- 
tions, and therefore knew their undermining strength; but 
it seems that the sturdy foundation of lofty character had 
already been laid, e'er he left the home of his youth, and 
that he was fortified to resist the allurements of temptation 
by strength of self-discipline. His early writings, when 
viewed in connection with the circumstances of his early 
life, his limited educational advantages and the individual 
effort exerted to surmount those limited advantages, reveal 
the character of their writer, to a great extent, clearly and 

After assisting Mr. Norwood for some months in his 
school-work my father turned his attention to the study 
of the law, the regular course in which he began, accord- 
ing to his own account, on the 5th of December, 1850, 
being at that time but little more than twenty years of age. 
Two of his cousins, the Misses McDowell, had married 
the well-known lawyers, N. W. and J. W. Woodfin, and it 
may have been either from association with them or from 
natural inclination that he chose the studv of the law as 


the study of liis life. However, from the diary written 
about this time, and which is now in my possession, it may 
be very clearly seen that he pursued his chosen study with 
the determination to succeed, if possible, and in reading 
those pages one is struck not only with the beauty and 
force of some of the expressions and sentiments, but also 
with the evidences of the boy's marked characteristics, his 
perseverance and studiousness, and above all wuth the 
deeply moral and religious tone that bears sway through 
the whole. The strong points of the character of the 
future man were clearly expressed in his words, noble and 
manly, full of the inspiration and determination of youth. 
Throughout all of these selections from the old and time- 
worn documents, yellow with age, written in the boyish 
handwriting characteristic of the writer, the expressions 
and diction, with the faulty spelling, have been followed 


December s, 1S50. — Today I comniensed the study that I presume will 
be ended only with my life. I have just entered upon the study of the 
Law; — a study, which I think I may safely say, is the high road to wealth, 
honour, distinction and intellectual worth. It embraces allmost evry 
thing calculated to improve ones mind, and indeed, it seems, as if it is 
intended but for few, as the past teaches us that few men have fully under- 
stood and taught it. Whether I shall succeed or not, none but God knows, 
and in him I put all my trust, for it is from him comes all things. One 
thing, however, is certain; no labor nor pains shall be wanting on my part 
to make myself both useful and respectable. Relying on the maxim, that 
labor will be rewarded, I go forth to the task with ardor, though not with- 
out doubts and fears. Thousands have attempted to climb the mighty 
steep and have failed; and in repining have plunged the dark abyss of 
ruin and disgrace. Great God save me from this! 

I have today studied the chapt. upon Absolute Rights of persons,— one 
full of interest, and which I doubt not I understand tolerably well. This 
evening I read a chapt. in Paley's Moral Philosophy upon the different 
kinds of Government, which is quite interesting. Some domestic busi- 


ness prevented me from reading as much as I had intended, however I 
had the longer time to reflect on what I read, and reflection is beneficial. 
This morning I went to m}- Preceptor's Office, J. W. Woodfin Esq. 
and was soon met by him and Z. B. Vance Esq., who is my brother student 
in Law, and is one whom I esteem much. I think him to be a young 
man of more than ordinary talent, and at the same time possessing a 
manly, gentlemanly disposition. I hope time will prove us both good 
friends and useful members of society. 

SiLfiday, December j. — The day being very cold I felt disposed to keep 
near the fire and enjoy myself in reading. I read several chapts. in the 
Bible, and not a little in other books. In the afternoon I went to the 
Methodist Church and herd the Rev. E. Rowle}- preach an excellent ser- 
mon, — one which did him credit and which I Avould suppose entertained 
his audience very much. 

gth and lot h. — This morning I arose at the usual hour and prepared for my 
daily business. In the first [place] I read a chapt. in the Bible, and this 
I will make a general rule, for the first matter to which I attend in the 
morning. I then engaged in some light reading until breakfast, after 
which I read Law, upon the subject of the Kings Prerogative until 9 
o'clock. Then paid a visit to my relations, which was very pleasant 
* "^ * After returning to \w\ room I spent the day in the study of Law, 
except at intervals when I would be reading something amusing rather 
than instructive. 

The evening the top story of our Court House went up, not falling far 
short of one hundred feet from the ground. Ma}- the ability of the bar 
be in proportion to the height of the house! 

December 10. — This morning I prepared for business as usual. After 
my Bible reading I commensed the very long chapt. in Blackstone, on 
the Kings Revenue. It has occupied most of the day; some time, how- 
ever, was spent in assisting Mr. H. Johnston in his store. This I can't 
call lost, as I am thereby profited. This evening I spent some time in 
conversation w'ith my friend Z. B. Vance. This was quite a recreation as 
he is full of life and fun. One loves to be relieved occasionally from the 
close paths of such reasoners as Blackstone. Tonight for the first time 
we have had an examination upon the Law. Mr. Woodfin examined us 
about an hour and I believe we met his anticipations. 

I will now, (12 o'clock), retire to rest, and find the peaceful enjoyments 
of sleep, which seems to be rest, and the onh' rest which man has, frome 
the cares and toils of busy life. Sleep, O sleep, thou art the balm of our 
existance. -^^ * * How wise, how great, how good is the Creator of 
Man; — the dispenser of all blessings ! 

DeceDiber 11. — I arose this morning at the usual hour and found nature 
all serene. Beautiful as a virgin was the morning, and all seemed inviting. 


Books called my attention to their hidden treasures. * * * When 
nature is calm, how pleasant it is to think, and how pleasant it is to 
know that all blessings come from an inexhaustible source. 

Our Town is full of life today. We here the ring of the hammer, the 
crashing of the saw, the cracking of whips, the rattleing of waggons, the 
noise of cattle and hogs and the hum of the merchant. All these com- 
bined furnish quite an interesting sene for one who is disposed to look on 
and contemplate. How much nature, is here exhibited, how much of the 
old Adam? We see each one striving for himself, and are led to consider 
the wholesome laws that actuate to industry; laws which restrain the 
vicious intruder, and protect the unoffending laborer. How vast, how 
good the embodiment of laws which we hold as our municiple code, not 
to think of our National and Natural rights and privileges. Man is 
mightv, and vet a bubble. He weighs the universe in a scale, penetrates 
the bowels of the earth, and yet cannot comprehend an acorn. How 
mighty, how little; how worthful, how worthless! 

December 12. — Man's existance requires him to take some part with his 
fellow mortal, else he would be selfish and miserable. It is said that this 
is a world of cold heartedness, but this will not do for a true maxim when 
we extend it to mankind generally; for there is a sympathetic quality in 
mankind generally that ever has and ever will be cherished. 'Tis that 
which makes man more refined than brutes. 

Tonight I spent a few minutes in conversation with some visitors, 
among whom was my friend Vance. After some conversation we went 
to the office of our Preceptor. * * We left at yi past 11 o'clock. After 
retireing to my room I have spent some time in reading and will now, 12 
o'c'lk, retire to rest. 

December 13. — I have today done my usual amount of reading. My 
lessons in Blackstone embraced two chapts. Both dry and of little 
importance only as mere historical knowledge. One cannot, however, 
appreciate too well any thing that this eminent jurist says; for he says 
what is necessary and no more. We seldom find books of this quality. 
We might find books written in more flowery style, yet, this would not 
be in strict accordance with the scrutinous acts of law, it being its object 
not to please alone, but to tell us our duty in plain and unmistakeable 

December 22. — I have spent the greater part of the day in reading 
various books. This evening I called on my friend Vance and we spent 
some time very pleasantly. However, I paid well for our pleasantry as I 
got wet on my way home. Tonight I tried for the second time in my 
life to see whether I could do anything with the Muses. I made a sort of 
an out, not very good. Indeed I dont believe I was made for a Poet. I 
have very little taste for Poetry, let alone writing it. I have for some 


time been trying to improve my taste iu this respect, but with seeming little 
effect. There appears to be something of too small a nature or too great, 
I hardly know which. 

January 28. — This morning for m}- first improvment I have read a chapt. 
in the Bible. This is a book that is not only valuable because of its 
divine character; but also because of the vast amount of general informa- 
tion it contains. It has something in it about allmost everything, some- 
thing too, that all feel interested in. All should read and stud}' it. 

For the last 3^s of an hour I have been listening to the folly of youth, 
and truly the folly of youth is folly, for in it is no worth. It is the 
height of folly to pass one's time in the company of the vicious. Vet, it 
is impossible to avoid such company as we pass along the misty wrecks 
of time. Wo unto the youth that spends his time in talking idly and 
never thinking for a moment of that which is noble, of that which makes 
original barreuess present greatness and worth. 

January 2g. — This morning I was up as usual and read a chapt. in the 
Bible. After breakfast I finished the first Vol. of Blackstone's Com- 
mentaries. How much I know of the science of Law I can't determine. 
I have gone over the vast field of Rights of Persons and Rights of Things 
and though I can perceive I know much to which I was before a stranger, 
yet I can with equal facility see that there is much that I do not fully 
comprehend. I have spent some time today in general reading. This 
I consider an allmost indispensable rec^uisite. M3' education is not that 
of one who has all the advantages of a life of plent}', and I must so far 
as possible supply this requisite by increased labor and application. The 
sun rose this morning in all his shining splendor but was soon obscured by 
the dark snow clouds that passed before his cheering presence. How 
illustrative of this life! The winds are now howling the requiem of the 
past day, and tell mourn full}- that we may never expect its return again. 
Surely we ought to improve evry moment; for when once it passes us 
we embrace it no more, it is then with the eternity of the past. 'Tis 
mournful to muse on the past: friends that once cheered our gloomy 
hours are gone to the land of spirits, precious privileges have been per- 
mitted to pass by unembraced and we are the dupes of indolence and 
ignorance. Where is the man who can say I know of no hour that I spent 
unwisel}^? Ah! he lives not, and though thousands of great and illus- 
trious characters have graced the world, ^-et none have died without some 
secret regret of some mist spent time. How careful should we be! 

January ^i. — I have now commensed the business of the day, by read- 
ing a chapt. in the Bible. I find this book of books more interesting 
than at an}' previous time. There is much that is interesting to me, both 
as historical information and as that wich is of the Deitv. One cannot. 


too- well understand the works of the Deit}^ and there is no book better 
calculated to unfold them than the Bible. 

I, before dinner, was reading over some of the chapts. in Blackstone 
on Personalty. I also read some of Paley's remarks on religious systems. 
I am not fully convinsed of his doctrine, and further, I believe that our 
own happy institutions go to prove the contrary of what he writes. 

Since dinner I have been engaged in reading my text-book and Shakes- 

February J, i8^i. — I have been engaged during the greater part of the 
day in reading the last chapts. of Blackstone's ist and 2d Vols. This 
evening my friend Z. B. Vance called at my room and myself and 
he, after taking no small quantity of very good apples, took a walk for 
our exercise and amusement. Returned and examined the Court House 
as to its commodiousness. 

I find m}^ want of a knowledge of the Latin Language very much in 
nu' way. I am constantly comeing over Latin words and phrases that 
very much frustrate me in m}' comprehension of the intention of the 
author. I see no way to overcome this difficult}^ but by untiring perse- 
verance and by a constant refference to the best Eng. Dictionaries. 

February 26, /Sj/. — l read Law and Poetry until dinner. * ^ * My 
taste for it, (poetr}^) I find is becoming much better, and much that I 
once found dull to me, is now very palateable. This is calculated to 
improve ones language and sentiment. The day is like a May day. The 
sun shines beautifulh' and warmly. * ^ * We see the busy merchant 
engaged behind the counter, we hear the rap of the industrious carpenter 
and see the sturdy countrj-mau as he comes to get his domestic neces- 
saries and farming utensils. All is busy life. The student is shut up in 
his study prepareing, with hope, for future days and years. He looks 
around at volumes of what others have done and asks himself w'hether 
he will be able to leave something of the same kind behind him when he 
is silent in death. He looks forw^ard to the time when the world will 
behold him on the arena of life, contending with his fellowman for honor 
and distinction. And while he thus meditates, a deep emotion comes up 
in his heart which causes him to doubt his strength for these things. Yet 
with buoyant hope he still winds his way onward throug the musty 
records of the sages that are silent in death and live onh^ in their works. 
It is a consolation to him, to know that labor will make him at least 
respectable. How vast the X'niverse, how expansive the mind of man, 
and yet how little he really knows. 

February 2j, i8§i. — Tonight Vance and myself met and passed a short 
examination. We will soon have finished the fourth book of Blackstone; 
then I presume we will take up Coke, a long and tedious book. 


We have heard from Gov. Swain who thinks it advisable for ns to remain 
here until Julj'. By doing this we will be prepared to get County Court 
Licens. I am of opinion that I will do as well to wait until next fall and 
get Licens, as I will have more time to devote to general reading. This 
is all important to me as my education has not been so extensive as it 
should have been. Labor overcomes all things. 

March 8, 1851. — The brilliant sun has just gone down behind the west- 
ern hills; — all behind him looks sedate. Ten million twinkling stars shine 
far above our heads. The silver moon moves placidly along in her ethe- 
real track * * * Truly the works of the Deity are wonderful, nay, 
sublime. If we suffer ourselves to rove in the widest fields of imagina- 
tion, we then fail to picture nature in all her beauty, in all her majestic 
grandure. How beautiful, how majestic, how sublime all around above 
and below me. 

O God thou art a God of greatness. Truly thou ought to be rever'd. 

March p, 18^1. — The day is beautiful. It is now 3 o'clock. I see posted 
along the streets gangs of white boys, men, and negroes: — quite a revolt- 
ing sight on the sabbath day. Men surely have very little self respect to 
be thus profaning the Lords da3\ They would be much better employed 
at Church, or in reading some good book: but alas, where "ignorance is 
bliss tis folly to be wise." How unfortunate for the individuals them- 
selves, and how much more so for our own country. It is to be regretted 
that our State Legislature does not interpose in such matters. If we look 
around upon our country we see that it is quite ignorant, even of the most 
common topics, and yet, there is little effort making for intellectual 
improvement. So long as this is the case, so much the slower will we be 
in rising to the highest point of national disti[n]ction-and worth. 

April i^, i8j/. — Since morning I have been closely engaged in reading 
Blackstoue, and Fearne on Remainders. The latter is decidedly the most 
intricate book I ever read. I hope to understand it at least tolerably well 
by the time I am done with it. I dont believe that any one ever fully 
understood it, not even Fearne himself. 

Tonight I spent a few minutes in reading Chemistry; a subject that I 
have hitherto neglected. 

May 21. — For the last two days I have been engaged in reading Law 
etc. etc. I have not been engaged all the time and this I have to regret, 
for time is always precious and is doubly precious to me. If I spend it 
unprofitably then I have the greater cause of regret. He who would be 
great must be assiduous, however, great his genius may be, and he who 
would be nought, (and which God forbid I should be), then let him spend 
his time idl)\ This I seldom do, and this is perhapse the reason I have 
such bitter reflections on passing time idly. * ^•' * I look back and 
see how little I have accomplished, then look forward to the work I have 


to do and aui fdled with apprehensions of fear as to ui}- success in the 
world. I have this consolation, however, that thousands in as limited 
and unfavorable circumstances as myself have attained the highest dis- 

Why may I not follow in their footsteps? I live in a land of liberty, 
the only place where worth is ever fully appreciated; the road is open and 
on, on I will go than I should fail. -^ ^ * i have read some of the 
writings of Edgar A. Poe. I have also read his life. I know not that I 
ever read the life of any man, except that of Napoleon with more sympa- 
thy than his. He was perfectly miserable and the most of all was he, 
himself was the author of all his misfortunes. We have to pity the weak- 
ness of mankind and it seems that this weakness is to be more pittied 
when we see it fully developed in great genius. 

Men boast of strength of mind, of greatness but alas how frail the}- are 
when we think of perfection. 

June 10, /Sj/. — Nature seems to have on her loveliest garb now. There 
are ten thousand charms to call one's attention to the senery around him. 
The whole forests are clad in green, the fields are smiling with grain and 
all seems to rejoice. * "^ ""' 

What a great, what an almight}- God made all these wonders. Surely 
he deserves our devotion, our most sincere worship. Hard must be the 
heart of him who fails to see and appreciate the goodness of God. Surely 
such a mortal must be dead to all that is noble and edifying. I cant 
believe there are such. W^ho would want a better proof of God than 

June //, iS^i.—l have spent the day in reading Blackstone and Saun- 
ders. I finished reading Saunders this evening. I recited my first Latin 
lesson this evening to Rev. E. Rowley, — a gentleman whom I consider 
well qualified to instruct me in that language. I have commeused the 
study of Latin because I believe it will be of great advantage to me and 
becaus I have some time that may be well occupied in such a study. 

June i>/, i8^i. — I have just commeused reading Hume's histor}^ of 
England. It is very dry. I must however notwithstanding this read it 
and read it closely. It is of vast importance to the well understanding of 
the English law. 

July /, iS^i. — This morning I read a chapt. in Blackstone, then read 
Histor}-, then spent some minutes in reading Burke on Taste. I then 
went into Court and spent my time till 12 M. "^ ^ -^ This is the 
day of July. How fast time flies! How we should improve it too as it 

July 2S, /Sj/. — This morning I read several chapts. in the Bible. After 
breakfast spent some time in reading News Papers. At J3 after 10 o'clock 



I went to the M. E. Church and herd a very good sermon from Rev. W. 
Hicks. He is a very fervent man. His appeals to sinners are very vehe- 
ment. This evening I attended the Presbyterian Church and herd a very 
good sermon. It was well delivered and was written in good style. 

jlfonday. — This movn'mg I commensed the business of the new week 
by reading the chapt. in Biackstone on the Feudal System. This is quite 
an interesting and important chapt. After reading this I read one in the 
4th Book, which was no less interesting. I then spent the remainder of 
the fore part of the day in reading Hume's History. 

Since dinner I have been prepareing my Latin lesson. Latin requires 
a ver}' great effort of the memory. It is not so pleasant on that account. 
I think however, that I will gradually acquire a sound knowledge of latin. 

August ^, i8si. — This morning I commensed the business of the day 
by reading the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh. This was quite interesting. 
In the greatness of man there is also weakness. He was a great man, 
yet like all others he had his infirmities. I then read a chapt. in second 
Biackstone on Estates in Possession Remainder and Reversion. This 
chapt. thoug intricate, was very interesting. 

It was at this early period of his career that my father 
met her who was to be his helpmeet through forty years of 
life together, Margaret Jane Baird, daughter of Israel and 
Mary Tate Baird. The latter was a daughter of Samuel 
and Elizabeth Tate, of Pennsylvania, several of whose 
descendants of the old family of Tates may now be found 
in Western North Carolina. Israel Baird was the son of 
Bedent Baird, who, with Zebulon and Andrew, bis brothers, 
removed from New Jersey and came to North Carolina, 
settling in the mountainous district of this State, of which 
section they may be regarded as among the pioneer settlers, 
where they became large land-owners and well-known citi- 

Margaret Baird was but a school-girl at the time of which 
I write, possessed of intelligence, refinement and beauty, 
and the heart of the young law student was taken captive. 
In spite of other suitors he won this, the most important 
of the early cases of his practice, and henceforth life held 


for him a double duty and a still further incentive to earnest 
labor; for in these early years of his professional career 
his life had its privations and discomforts to be manfully 
endured, and its temptations and trials to be fought against. 
Oftentimes away from home, without home comforts, sleep- 
ing sometimes upon his office bench at night or enduring- 
other discomforts incident to his struggle upward, he entered 
upon the study and practice of the law with no bright pros- 
pects of certain attainment in view, no sure reward before 
him in the field of labor he had chosen. 

To him life appeared to be full of duty; first, his chosen 
study, then the branches of learning that radiate from and 
cluster around a thorough knowledge of Law, general lit- 
erature, history, travels, biography, were to be read and 
digested in order to familiarize himself with the products 
of the great minds of the ages; next, conv^ersation, bodily 
exercise, sleep, — all these were important to him as bear- 
ing upon his successful study for professional life, when he 
recognized the necessity for economy of time. 

Below are extracts from still another diary kept during 
the year 1853: 

August /, i8^j. — This morning I resume the practise of Journalizing, 
after haveing left it off for eighteen months. I left it off rather through 
neglect than necessity and I regret now that I did so. Journalizing is a 
pleasant amusement, and it is at the same time, very beneficial. It 
enables a man to keep before him a map of all he has done and many 
times he notes down events that transpire each succeding day, that might 
and perhaps will, be of great benefit to him in future life, though he cannot 
at the time see when or how. The future is a nn-stery to us, we know- 
little about, and hence the great necessity of availing ourselves of what 
we do and can learn from the past. 

In the forenoon my law reading included a chapt. in Story on Con- 
tracts, on the subject of "'Agency." It contains only a cursor}- view of 
that very important subject. Haveing read a more extended treatise on 
the same subject heretofore, it served me well in refreshing my mind in 
regard to the most important and leading features. I spent some time in 


reading light literature before dinner — Moore's Poems, Esop's Fables, 
&c. I am fond of Moore's melancholy poetry, and quite amused at 
Esop's Fables. Everybody ought to read them. I don't known how I 
have neglected this so long. 

Aitgiist 2, /8jj. — l find that my literary appetite quickens evry day 
and I should not be surprised, that, though formerly I cared little about 
light reading, I make it convenient to spend many hours in reading the 
English Classics. This would not be time ill spent by any means, — evry 
man ought to be well read, and indeed, if he would be a good speaker, or 
be considered an intelligent man, he must, both read and study what 
is termed light reading, or literature. It is matter of pleasure, amuse- 
ment and advantage to one to make himself fully acquainted with literary 

Tonight I attended the Division of the Sons of Temperance. There 
was quite a small turn out tonight. I fear that the glorious cause of Tem- 
perance is not moveing on as rapidl}- as I could wish. 

August J, /Sjj. — There is now great excitement in regard to the Con- 
gressional election. 

In a Repul)lican Government like ours, of all classes of men, dema- 
gouges are to be feared the most, and I do not hesitate to say, that if 
this happy country is ever ruined, as I most sincerel}- hope it never will 
be, it will be done by the acts of demagouges, base slaves to political 
asprations and preferments. It is to be hoped that there will always be 
men enough, I mean good men, to save the country of the quicksands of 
disunion and dissension in evr\' crisis. Evry patriote ought and does 
deprecate anything that has a tendenc}- to weaken the bonds that bind 
this great and glorious nation together. Our Union is our safety, our 
safe guard, our all and may the ruler of all things ever preserve it! Who 
does not love the Union? Where is the man so base as to even wish to 
see one single tie that binds us as one people dissevered ? If there be such 
a one let him blush in shame and die the death of an infidel. 

Aug7ist 6, /tS'jj. — This evening I have spent some time in reading. 
Tonight all is lovely, nothing is to be heard save the cricket upon the hearth 
and the Catadids among the trees. How lovely! how melancholy! how 
pleasant to him who woes solitude! Let the soul on a night like this 
withdraw herself from surrounding circumstances and contemplate for a 
few minutes herself. How high her being, for what noble purposes created, 
and to what end destined ! ! Who can estimate her worth, who can meas- 
ure her height? Not the tallest Ark Angel in Heaven. She is the vital 
part of man, the important part of man, let him look well to his present 
existance and prepare for an eternal one. 

August S, /Sjj. — The fore part of the day I spent in reading Law. I 
read the law of Bailment. 


I have finished reading the Scottish Chiefs. The book is not written in 
the finest style, though well enough to make it entertaining and it is not 
withont merit. It has a tendency to inspire patriotism, heroism, high- 
mindedness and real honor. It cannot be expected by those who are at 
all acquainted with mankind, that we shall ever see the equal of Sir Wil- 
liam Wallace, nevertheless, let all endeavor to approach the virtues of an 
ideal man to a great extent, as near as possible. It also presents in a 
strong light the heroism, manners and cnstoms of the Scotts, they were a 
brave people, an honest people, a people that I could have loved. I fear 
that the people of that country have greatly degenerated, that they have 
long since forgotten many of the deeds of their ancestors, and that they 
will alhvays be subject to another power, 

August 13, /c^jj.— Today I have been busily engaged in reading Law 
and miscellaneous reading. I have thought much also. The day has 
been very warm. 

August //, /5jj.— The sun shines resplendantly and evrything is joy- 
ous. I read two or three chapters in the Bible and a sermon then went 
to Church. 

Sunday is a day of pleasure indeed. The Christian rest[s] from his labor 
and repairs to the house of God to worship; others find it a day of fun 
and amusement, while others enjoy themselves reading and thinking. 

August ij, ycS'jj.— Today I have been closely engaged in reading. 
Read Law and miscellaneous reading,— finished S[t]ory on Contracts and 
Roberts on Frauds; both interesting works, and highly deserving evry 
students close and undivided attention. I feel much benefitted by the 

August /S, /8jj. — This morning I commensed a review of Blackstone, 
secou[d] Book. I find the work more and more interesting evry time I 
read it, and never fail to discover something new. — In all my reading I 
have not found a work on any subject so comprehensive. — All the law 
Books I have been able to read contain only an extended view of the sub- 
jects Blackstone has treated of with a master's hand, and the more you 
read in other books, the more you are capable of understanding him on 
the same subject. — The afternoon of today, I have been engaged in read- 
ing Starkie on Evidence, and other miscellaneous reading. Tonight is 
gloriously beautiful. All is wrapped in slumber save myself. Evrything 
is silent and nature looks so grand, not sublime for it has none of the 
terrible, but grand, majestic, it looks like the work of a God. What a 
structure this world is! O that I could understand its origin, it as it is 
and its destiny ! ! 

August J/, /c^jj.— Today is the last day of summer, and who has not a 
tear to shed over the summer gone? Could it not have been spent more 
profitably than it has? Ask ourselves the question. Another half year 


is gone and with it what mighty things have come and gone.^Ten thou- 
sand glorious crops have come, and ten thousand more beautiful fields of 
flowers have come, and millions of new things have come, — are gone or 
partly so, but more than these are gone. Some of the greatest and best 
men of the world are gone, mighty things are gone and we shall see them 
no more. We too are passing away, — will soon have filled our course 
here and let us do it well, we can, we should. Let the next six months 
of the passing year witness greater efforts on our part to do evrything 
that devolves upon us to do. 

Thursday, Sept. i, /8jj. — Fall with her leveling sythe is commensed 
her deadly work. Flowers are gone and the leaves are following fast after 
those beauties that are alread}- gone. Nature is a great book for all to 
learn from and we should all share what was no doubt intended for our 
common benefit. If man had nothing to teach him, but the broad Uni- 
vers, he surel}- could not be ignorant. — What lessons he might learn 
from the Globe on which we live! What Jessons from the moon and stars 
and sun ! ! With these silent teachers man ought and surely would be a 
great and intelligent being. But we have more than this, we have all the 
learning of all the ages that are rolled back on the ocean of things that 
were. All that our fathers learned is at our command. In view of all 
these facilities how learned we might be, what great knowledge we might 
possess, — na}^ how wise we ought to be ! ! How wide the feild of thought! 
Where is the limit? Mind is eternal, its grasp is infinite and its aim 
should be to search after those things that have the greatest to promote 
the happiness of the same. — How few think of the strength, of the intel- 
lectual strength of man, of what he reall}- is? How few think of his 
capabilities, of his destiny! Few, indeed few. Men move on and live as 
though it were a matter of course that they should live, little thinking of 
their high destiny or of that that devolves upon them as a duty. Fearful 
idea! — I hold that evry man has a great dut}' to perform. We all are 
indebted to society alike. It is evr}- man's duty to do all that he can do, 
to promote the greatest and best good for all mankind. It is his bounden 
duty and it is his interest to do it, but how few believe it! How selfish 
is man! How few love the great heard of the human race! When we 
look at things in this regard in their proper light how melanchoh' a state 
of human affairs do we behold! ! 

Thursday, September 8, A. D. 1853. — Today is the birthday of my 
wife. She is today nineteen years old, fresh and beautiful as ever. She 
has a devoted heart, a constant heart. A Good lady. This evening I have 
read Law. 

Friday, Sept. g, /8jj. — This morning is very damp and unpleasant. 
I have commensed investigating the subject of Quo Warranto today, 
with a view of commenseing a suit of that nature shortly. — I find that the 


English Practice on that portion of Law has been quite loose. Our prac- 
tice I apprehend is more so. 

How uncomfortable one is rendered by a long spell of wet damp weather. 

Wet weather however, is a part of the course and operations of nature, 
and one should be reconciled to all temporary inconveniences and un- 
pleasantness. I have always found by my own experience and that of 
others too, that Nature does all things as they should be, that in the end, 
evrything works together for God. Providence is the best guide. Mans 
ken is too short to order the course of nature. The wisest and greatest and 
best men many times fail to direct the small ship of a single state properly 
and safely and how could he steer the vast ship of the Univers, with 
all its different departments through the great Ocean of infinity? The 
task is too great, the tour too long, the ship too stupendous for a man or 
a set of men to guide her. Then why repine at the doings of a being, 
the only being that can control nature! It is folly,— it is foolishness! 

20 minutes after 8 o'clock.— I have just been reading from the Home 
Journal, a literary paper of some merit and not without some reputation. 
I have just finished reading an Article, or rather an extract published in 
it and formally endorsed by the editors, as being very good, on English 
life. It is well enough written and I have no doubt is correct, if we sim- 
ply look to one grade of society in that country. The objection to the 
extract is, that it represents the English people all as being a people of 
most polished manners and practiceing the most accomplished modes of 
liveing. As above remarked, this is true if we confine ourselves to one 
grade of society, but if we take the bulk of the english people, I appre- 
hend quite a different tale might be told. The English people though, as 
polished, as a nation of people as almost any other nation, nevertheless 
this high state of refinement is not a characteristic of the english nation 
and the error is, that the extract produces the impression that itisgiveing a 
sketch of what is a common characteristic of the English Nation. The peo- 
ple of a particular town or village may be very polished, but to give a de- 
scription of the people of that town would be very far from giving a correct 
description of the manners and customs and the general style of a whole 
people. One town, neither does one class, make up a nation of people, 
but it is evry body in the nation taken collectively and when one would 
give the correct history of the manners, customs, and styles of a nation 
of people, let him be careful to have an eye to the nation as a mass and 
not as a part. Editors of Papers and Periodicals should be careful as to 
the matter they permit to go into their papers &c, for, let them recollect 
that newspapers and periodicals have much to do in making up the sum 
of information of the youthful generation, much to do in forming their 
opinions and principles, both political and moral and I might add relig- 
ious. Alas! however, we have few good Editors! Notwithstand[ing] the 


grand and important position of an Editor, we see scores of men making 
their dail[y] bread off of the public, in this capacity, when they could 
hardly write a business note of the simples[t] nature correctly. 

September j^, /<?5j.— Today is a beautiful day. I have been engaged 
all day in business and reading. This is my birthday. I am today twenty 
three years old. One third of a long life, if I should live a long one, is 
gone, gone forever and how much I have to reflect upon! Have my days 
been spent as profitably as they ought to have been ? Ah, that's the ques- 
tion. I have seen much and heard much and learned something. I hope 
I have done many virtuous and beneficial acts, at the same time I fear 
that I have done many things I ought not to have done. I have the pleas- 
ant reflection however, that I have endeavored to do no one harm and 
that I have never done an act that if it was necessary, I would be afraid 
for the world to know. This is a consolation, a great consolation, a proud 
consolation! The importan[t] part of life, in the preperation to act, is 
almost past. In youth we ought to prepare to act in manhood we ought 
to act, act for the good of ourselves and the good of our fellow man. If 
I should live twenty three years longer, I hope to improve them more 
profitably and substantially. May I do so! 

Monday, September 26, /c?5j. — [After reference to occupations of the 
day.] Tonight is pleasant.— nothing disturbs quietude, while nature 
assumes her nightly mantel. A few thin clouds float lightly through the 
almospher and ten thousand little stars seem to sing sweetly together. 
What is there to make man unhappy here? — nothing, save that restless 
disposition to move on, onward forever! Man is not a stationary being; 
he stops at no certain point. One degree attained he desires another and 
when the soul has reach[ed] the perfection of an angel, the probability is, 
onward, onward; will be the watchword. Mans mind, in its thoughts, is 
infinite, — time and space cannot contain its wanderings. It reaches to the 
highest Heaven and goes down beneath the lower Hell. How great is 
man! how great and O, how weak! Mind is infinite and yet man cannot 
comprehend a blade of grass. What weakness and strength combined! 
Who can understand all of man? 

Tuesday, September 2j, A. D. 1833. — I neglected to note down that I 
read a very interesting Chapt. in Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric, last night 
after I had finished writing for the day. It was a criticism on the st3'le of 
Dean Swift. Dr. Blair is very complimentary to the Dean, nevertheless 
he discovers man}' errors in his composition. He anah^zes closel}' and dis- 
covers hundreds of inaccuracies that even a close thinker, and observer 
would not notice. The aim of Mr. Blair seems to be to infuse into young 
writers the spirit of care in regard to composition, to be careful to use 
proper words and to use them in proper places and in a proper manner. 
I admire his manner of critisism and while he does ample justise to the 


author whose writings he is reviewing, he points out to his readers many 
errors in the best authors that may be avoided. This is well, and evry 
one should read and study his Lectures on Rhetoric. 

Thursday, Sept. 2g, /Sjj. — Today I found a man, (who became my 
client,) anxious to become litigant, and yet he feared to even have a writ 
issued. The thought of cost frightened him, and yet he was over anxious 
to see revenge in a court of Justice. I remarked to him that, he who 
would litigate his claims should have no fears as to cost; for he that would 
litigate nmst pay for it. 

Friday, Sept. jo, iSjj. — This is the last day of the first month of the 
fall season of the year. One twelfth of a year has passed of so soon, how 
little has been accomplished, when we consider how much ought to have 
been done? Few, very few, have done their duty! 

I rode this evening, have not felt pleasautl}^ to day. Have had many 
unpleasant thoughts about the past. It is all gone forever, my circum- 
stances and opportunities have been bad and I now see clearly that I 
might have spent my time more profitably than I did. But 'tis vain to 
mourn the past. Why is it; it is gone, let us improve the future and the 
present. Let us think of the present and act with an eye to the future. 
We all see at too late a day our errors; and when the day comes for us to 
find them out, it is not well that we should too much regret that we acted 
improperly. It is better that we should learn from the past to improve 
the present and the future. It is well too that we look at the conduct of 
others. We may learn to avoid many errors, if we will closely watch the 
conduct of our fellows, and mau}^ times, we may find virtues to imitate, 
even among the most ignorant and unrefined. I read tonight Rhetoric &c. 

Saturday, Oct. /, /8jj. — This morning about nine o'clock, I attended 
and saw one of the best friends I ever had die. 

He is called hence b3' a high power and we ought to submit. Why do 
men mourn when death comes and a friend is called to the land of spirits? 
It does no good, none, — it rather does harm. It affects the mind, some- 
times seriousl}' and greatly fatigues the physical system. There are occa- 
sions when I think men ought to weep and lament; but not when the 
Maker of all things comes in his wnsdom and justice to claim what is his 
own . 

Saturday, Oct. 8, A. D. i8_5j. — Last Sunday evening I left home for 
Court in Henderson County — Rode to my father's Sunday evening, a dis- 
tance of 14 miles. Had a pleasant ride, found my father and family well. 
As I approached the home of my early youth, I felt sorrowfnl, sorrowful 
indeed. I though [t] that I would meet glad and merry faces, but I knew 
I would not meet one fond, and mj^ best friend. No, no, my Mother, O, 
my Mother had 3'ears ago gone to the silent house of death. My thoughts 


were solem and mournful. — I recollect, distinctly that I never left home 
in my Mother's life time and returned without being greeted by her first 
on my return. — But my dear Mother greets me no more, no, no, she is 
gone to the Spirit land. — I visited the spot where she lies mouldering to 
dust. It was after dusk, when I approached the sacred spot and O, how 
solemn it was. No sound disturbed the stillness, the stars looked down 
in sacred silence and all nature seemed to chime in with my solemn feel- 
ings. I loved m}^ Mother dearly and now cherish her memory with a 
sacred pleasure. She moulded my character in a great degree. She was 
a woman of most excellent mind, and a purer being never lived. She 
strove to do her whole duty and she accomplished it, if ever mortal did. 
She was a noble woman, loved and esteemed by all who knew her. 

I found my little brothers and sisters all well and jovial. Thev were 
glad to see me and I felt that I was at " My Father's Home once more." 

Monday morning I reached the Court about lo o'clock, found a large 
collection of people. At ii o'clock the Court House bell rang and on 
entering the Court room I found many intelligen[t] members of the Bar, 

and on the Bench the Hon. Judge . Judge is a tall man, rather 

slender and at present quite lean. — His looks indicate that he is about the 
age of 65 years. His face is very much wrinkled and one would infer 
that the old Judge has indulged too freely the sparkling bowl. 

In a few moments Court was opened. The Grand Jury called and the 
Judge then proceeded to charge the same. — His charge was ver^^ short 
and it seemed a hard task for him to perform. Brevity seems to be a 
characteristic of the old man any how, for I noticed that everything was 
done in the shortest order. — The State side of the Docket was taken up 
first. No cases of importance. — Most of the cases were Assaults & 
Batteries, brought about b\' whisky drinking. — It required the time of 
the Court until Wednesday 12 o'clock. — I appeared in one State Case. 
My clients were charged with the offense of Mallicious Mischief. We 
expected the State to make out a strong case, and hence the counsel 
emplo3'ed with me and myself prepared the case well. We anticipated 
that we would make one or two points of law and we went into Court 
fully prepared. When the case was brought before the court and the 
witnesses examined, we found quite to our surprise that the State had not 
made out the case at all. — The Judge seeing our books, I suppose sus- 
pected that we would make two long and we[a]risome legal speeches and 
to comply with his rule of brevit}-, he said as I rose up to open the Argu- 
ment for the defense, " Gentlemen there can be but one point in this case 
and that is, was there mallice to the owner of the property." "You will 
therefore, confine your remarks to that point. " — I therefore cut my 
remarks short and detained the court only a few minutes in regard to the 
facts. The Court remarked to the Solicitor that the State had failed to 


make out a case, but the Solicitor insisted upon a verdict. We succeeded 
in having our three clients acquitted. There was little business of impor- 
tance done during the week. 

I regret that the rules of order and decorum in our courts are not bet- 
ter. — Lawyers do not act as become the high station they occupy, neither 

does the Judge. — I saw Judge call a Lawyer from the Bar and ask 

him for a chew of tobacco, and I have frequently, during the week, seen 
the Judge sit with his feet upon the front of the Judge's stand. This 
strikes me, as unbecoming the dignity and station of a Judge. — This want 
of proper respect to the station they occupy, is not on account of au}' 
want of intelligence on the part of the Judge and Lawyers; for as a body 
of men they are quite talented, and many of them are accomplished gen- 
tlemen. They have however, suffered themselves to fall into this loose 
way of doing by inattention. Nothing of importance occurred during the 
week. — One old man, who got very drunk attempted to go up the steps at 
the court-house and fell off, hurting himself thereby, seriously as he 
thought when he got sober. ^ * O WTetched fruits of whisky drink- 
ing! ■» * I reached home yesterda}' evening. 

Wednesday, October 12, 1833. — Court opened this morning at 10 o'clock. 
A small case was taken up first and has occupied the time of the Court all 
day. — It ought to have been disposed of in half the time. * * Lawyers 
ought to learn to do business fast and to arrive at what is just between 
man and man. I do not think that it is the duty of a lawyer to assist a 
scoundrel in carrying out some scheme to defraud his neighbor. It can- 
not and is not his business. — It is his whole duty to see that the real inter- 
ests of his client are looked after, and by this I mean his just rights. 

Thursday, October 13, 18^3.— 1 read tonight Fletchers Studies on 
Slavery. — I read the same last night. — I find it unusually mteresting. It 
takes a practical view of the subject and at the same time a philosophical 
one. It goes back to the beginning, considers it in the abstract and 
exposes the fallacy, and groundless objections, philosophers and fanatics 
have raised against the Institution of Slavery ever since the same has 
been an institution, and the work shows clearly that slavery was in exist- 
ance at the earliest times of which we have any account. If Abolitionists 
in this country would read the work with an unbiased mind and free from 
prejudice it would serve to dispel many illusions from their minds, and in 
the end redound to the welfare of this whole country. I hope such a day 
will come. 

Saturday, October 15, 1853. — This evening the Agricultural fair came 
off for the County of Buncombe. It is the first occasion of the sort for 
this county, and this is no compliment to the intelligence, industry and 
pride of the county. Many things were shown and most of the animals 


and articles exhibited were creditable to the owners. An Agricultural 
Essay w^as read to the Societ}'. 

I hope this day's work has given an impulse to the agricultural interests 
of this county, which are by far its greatest interests, that will be felt for 
years to come, and that those who to day witnessed the first Buncombe 
Fair may live to see many more. 

Friday, October 21, i8^j. — I have been attending Madison Court. I 
had a pleasant ride down the romantic French Broad River on Sunday 
evening last. The River winds its wa}' in a northerly direction from Ashe- 
ville, through a gorge extending through a solid bed of mountains between 
sixty and seventy miles broad. On either side of the River stupendous 
mountains rise up while ten thousand massive cliffs project out towards 
the river. The whole bed of the River forms a shoal nearly the whole dis- 
tance of sixty miles. I don't know of a more romantic and interesting 
peice of road than that lying immediately on the bank of the French 
Broad for the distance of sixty miles. — I reached Jewell Hill, the place 
where the court was held, on Monday morning. The house in which the 
court was held, is a miserable one, very open, with no seats, but two or 
three very indifferent ones, and the majority of the people that attend the 
court, are worse than the house. Men and women attend the court and 
drink and quarrel and fight and get drunk. — It is due that I say there are 
some clever genteel people in the count}', but the masses are little better 
than heathens. It is much to be regretted that we have such society in a 
country like this. It should not be and I hope the da}- is not far distant 
when the people will come to a proper knowledge of themselves. Little 
business was done in court, more was done however, than ought to have 
been done. To attempt to hold a court of justice in such a house as the 
one at Jewell Hill is a mere mockery of Justice. 

Tuesday, October ^5, i8^j. — On Saturda}' last, there was a considerable 
collection of people in the village, attending the muster that took place 
on that day. — I believe a pretence was made to muster, barely a pretence. 
It is a serious fact that our Malitia S3'stem is worse than none. — We have 
poor Malitia Laws and they are as poorly executed. — This ought not to be 
so. It is very important that all able to bear arms should know how to 
do so in times of emergency. Our citizens will never learn under our 

Tuesday, November 2, 1853. — An honest citizen who had a difficulty 
some time since came up to me on the street and with a greatful heart 
offered to pay me a dollar for "my very best advice," as he termed it, in 
regard to the settlement of his unpleasant family difference. — I had 
advised him to compromise with his wife and not suffer his case to come 
before a court of justice. He did so, and it was with an air of gladness 
and gratitude he hailed me the settler of the unpleasant difficulty. — I could 


not refuse to take the poor fellow's dollar, though, I did not take it as 
a fee. May he and his wife live a long and happy life after this. 

IVednesday, November j, /^5J. — I have just finished reading Mrs. 
Stow's work on Slavery. — Title, "Uncle Tom's Cabin. — This work has 
been published some time, but I have never read it until the last two days. — 
It has created a great noise in this country and in England, and why this 
is so, I am at a loss to understand. — It is well composed, but thousands of 
books have been written equally as well, and not one half the noise made. — 
It is tragical, but not more so than many others. It proves nothing that the 
author hoped to prove. If we were to admit all that she says, as true, it 
would onh' prove that Slavery as an institution has been and is abused. 
This does not affect the Institution as such. Thousands of scoundrels use 
the Christian Church as a cloak to cover their foul deeds, but does this 
prove that the Church is an evil or corrupt ? Surely not. And because 
some men abuse their slaves in the most cruel manner it does not prove 
that Slavery, as an Institution is an evil. Slavery in this country is here, 
and to abolish it, would be very dangerous to the government and institu- 
tions of our couutr}', and Mrs. Stowe will have to do something more 
than show the abuses of Slavery, before she will succeed is accomplishing 
her wishes here. 

Slavery has certainly existed from the earliest times down to the pres- 
ent, and it would seem that it is, in one sense, of divine appointment, 
this is clear from the Scriptures, but whether there can be slavery upon 
philosophical principles is another question and one upon which my 
opinions are not well settled, I incline to the opinion that it can. — I am 
now examining the subject to satisfy myself. — I am thoroughly convinced 
that Slavery in this country cannot be abolished without greatly endanger- 
ing our country, and indeed, whether it can be at all. If it is an evil in the 
abstract, it would be a greater evil to abolish it here, and therefore, I 
deprecate any movement to do it. Those fanatics in the North, inste[a]d 
of helping the evil, as they term it, are only making it worse and the 
sooner they cease their noise the better. — They can never accomplish 
their wishes, and I should greatly regret it, if they could. 

Tuesday, November 9, iS^^. — * * * It was my intention to attend 
the Sons of Temperance tonight, but my indisposition has prevented me 
from doing so. I dislike exceedingly to be deprived the pleasure of 
attending the meetings of this noble order. Evry sober man at this day 
should be a son of Temperance. His influence ought to be thrown into 
the scale of reform. It will do the temperance man good as well as the 
whiskj^ drinker, in that, that pest of society is in some degree done away 
with, in evry individual reform. No man can live for himself alone in 
this age. Evry one is affected more or less by the toper that lives in the 
town or neighborhood. How important then that sober men use all the 


weight of their influence in behalf of the reform of the inebriate ! He 
not only improves society, but many times he applies healing balm to a 
breaking heart and sends clothes and bread to naked and starving children. 
It is the duty evry one owes society to do all the good he can for the 
same. Selfish indeed, is that man who mocks at degradation and secretly 
and silently prides himself upon the superiority he possess[es] over his 
fellow. Such a one, is at least, no philanthropist. Evry man should 
and is bound to do all he can, consistently with his own preservation and 
that of his family, for mankind at large, upon the principal, if no other, 
that it is laudable in the eyes of the world and therefore adds to his own 
individual happiness. I would that all men loved their fellow as they 

Thursday, November lo, /^jj.— The fore-part of the day I spent in 
reading Chitty's Pleadings. — Read the first chapt. and several sections in 
the 2d. — This is a great work on Parties to Actions, the different kinds of 
actions and the Pleadings in the same. — I intend giveing the work a thor- 
ough Revisal this time. It includes evry thing almost, connected with 
the practice. — This evening I have read Starkie on Evidence and Fletcher's 
Studies on Slavery. 

Simday, November /j, /^jj.— I have just finished a perusal of Fletcher's 
Studies on Slaver3^ * * It is an able work and one characterized by 
great learning, — I have seldom seen so able a work. — His style is plain 
and neat and forcible. It abounds frequently with the most cutting sar- 
casm. If we had more works like this, and these generally read it would 
be better for our country. Mr. Fletcher writes with great composure and' 
does not suflfer his mind to be carried off from a calm and just view of his 

Tuesday, November i^, /Sjj. — I rose very early this morning and rode 
into the country to my Father's. — Had a cool ride in the early part of the 
morning. — Reached there at ^ past lo o'clock. — Found my Father's family 
all well.— Our dear one was absent, — My Mother, — She is gone. Evry- 
thing seemed desolate in her absence. Ten thousand sad memories sprang 
up in my mind, as place after place familiar to me came before my view. 
All was there save one fond object. — Spent two or three hours with my 
father and his family, then turned my face towards home. — It was night 
before I reached home. About dusk the beautiful moon rose in all her 
splendor. And how fine a time I had for silent reflection, as I rode over 
the good plank Road, all around was silent save the constant clatter of my 
horses feet. I thought of the past and hoped for the future.— When I 
came in sight of the village it looked silent and the soft light of the moon 
seemed to look down on a village wrapped in slumber and I thought how 
busy are the people, all still pushing and toiling ahead careless of the soft 
moonlight or the silent workings of nature all around them. 


IVednesday, Novei)iber i6, /Sjj. — I have spent the most of the day in 
business and conversation. This evening I have read the news. — Tonight 
I read the Life of Marion. I am fond of reading the lives of our dis- 
tinguished Heroes and Statesmen. Evry one ought to be familiar with 
the history of his own country, if no more, and the Biographies of mens 
lives, worn out in the service of their country contain much that is valu- 
able as histor}', not only of the man, but also of the country. — American 
History has been greatly neglected. It is a fact, that there is not extant 
a good history of this country. There are many portions of the country 
of which the histor}- has been written, but there is no good general history. 
There ought to be and some one capable of chronicleing the events that have 
transpired in this countr}- might win an undying fame in doing so. 

I hope some one of the present generation will accomplish so great a 
work. One must consult man}- authors to get a superficial knowledge of 
this country. 

Thursday, November ij, iS^j. — This morning I read Law, — Chitty's 
Pleadings, a most useful book and evry lawyer should be familiar with it. — 
This evening I have made a purchase of a lot of Books, Literary books 
principalh'. — It would have been better, in view of my circumstances, to 
have deferred the purchase of the books, but for the reason that I got 
them cheaper than I could buy them at a regular book store. — They con- 
tain a vast deal of information and I hope to be able to improve my stock 
of information greatly by a perusal of them. 

Sunday, November 20, /Sjj. — Today has been fine. Read the Bible, 
sermons and finished the life of Marion. It is hard to do the character 
of this amiable man justice. His services were peculiar and of the 
weightiest importance. 

He was one of nature's noblemen, did great service for his country, 
received no pay and history has never done him justice. ^The people of 
this country have failed to do justice to his memory. * ^ He is surely 
entitled to everlasting remembrance by the American people and [they ?] 
may cherish his memory with patriotic fondness. — It ought to be the aim 
of evr}- American historian to present the public with the true character 
of such men. It would infuse a feeling of reverence for our ancestors and 
a spirit of patriotic affection time and circumstances could not obliterate. 

Tuesday, November 22, i8^j. — I commensed the labor of the day by 
reading an hour or two this morning. I read law — the law of evidence. 
After this I read papers — then finished a little history of the Battles of 
the IValdenses by the Rev. J. T. Headly. 

His "Napoleon and his Marshalls " is certainly unrivalled for the pic- 
turesque, the wild and fanciful that characterizes every page. I read it 
with pleasure, because I sympathise with the unfortunate Napoleon. 


This evening I have been reading law and takeing notes on the same — 
Read Chitty's Pleadings. I think the practice of takeing notes beneficial. 

I find Scott's Novels interesting and wish I had more time, leasure 
time to devote to reading them. They are written in fine style and evr}' 
page has more or less of something of thought that is valuable to the man of 
general information. I have also read two chapts. in Blairs Rhetoric. I 
find this very interesting and evry one who has any fondness for literary 
improvement ought to read it. It is full of the most solid information 
and contains many valuable suggestions and directions to the student. 

Thursday, November ^/, iS^^. — I commensed the business of to day 
by reading law^ — read two or three hours this morning, went to the Vil- 
lage, conversed, attended to some business in my office, returned home, 
then went to church, this being thanksgiving day and heard some very 

good remarks made by the Rev. Mr. . He is not a good speaker 

but a sensible man and he preached a very patriotic sermon. He seems 
to have a heart and soul large enough to enfold our great, glorious and 
prosperous Republic. Long may our land, Columbia's soil be the land of 
freedom and may the glorious Stars & Stripes forever float proudly at 
home and abroad! Who does not love his countr}^ his whole countr}-? — 
Since dinner I have been engaged in reading Chitty and takeing notes on 
the same. This evening I have continued my perusal of Starkie on Evi- 
dence — it continues to increase in interest. 

Sunday, November 2j^ i^53- — This morning I read several chapts. in 
the Bible — The History of the Life and death of Christ. This I found 
interesting. Truly he was a man, a God of sorrows, while he sojourned 
upon the earth. "He had not where to lay his head." I read several 
chapts. in the book of Job. This is poetical. The writers of the Bible 
are emphatically the most forcible and many of them the most beautiful 
in the world. If the Phrophets were not inspired, the}' were men of great 
learning and deep research, not in lore that existed before them, but in 
nature itself. I would I could understand the scriptures and that I were 
free from an aching doubt. Is it possible for a man to die and be saved 
after the system of Christianity, doubting ? And who can understand and 

comprehend so well as to free his mind from all doubt? "help thou 

mine unbelief." 

I have read a portion of a sermon on the Judgment by the Rev. Dr. 
Bascom. He preaches with his usual force of style on this subject, but 
seems unable to grasp the magnitude of the same. 

Tuesday, November 2g, /Sjj. — Tonight I attended the Division of the 
Sons of Temperance for the first time in some weeks or months. I was 
pleased with the meeting. This body of men has done great good towards 
stemming the dreadful current of intemperance that has inundated our 


whole happy land for years. They will continue to do good and thousands 
have and will rejoice that the order of the sons exists. 

Wednesday, November ^o, /^Jj. — Today I have been principally engaged 
in niakeing arrangements to go to Cherokee Court. — It is one hundred and 
t\vent\- miles from here to ]\Iurphy in Cherokee County, a long distance 
to go to a court. I must go however, he that would make money at the 
practice of the Law in this portion of North Carolina, must attend several 
courts, get many cases, for cases do not pay well. The country is too poor 
to pay well. Hence arises the necessit)'. I will go to Cherokee and enlarge 
my circuit, I will read on my circuit at night and leasure hours, and in this 
way endeavor as well as I can to make up for the time that I ought to be 
in my office. Hard indeed is the life of a laborious lawyer! — and no one 
can become a profound lawyer without great, unceasing labor. 



That self-reliance is engendered by the very need of it 
is illustrated in the character of some of the world's ereat 
men who, from boyhood, had to battle for themselves 
against opposition, difficulties and dangers in myriads of 
forms. It would seem that opposition but brought to the 
front the strength of character in those determined to suc- 
ceed; that it whetted the appetite for success and gave 
courage a new impetus to overcome all obstacles. Alas! 
such is not the case always, but it seems to have been true 
of him of whom I write. 

Having obtained county and Superior Court license, my 
father was fairly launched upon the great sea of legal prac- 
tice with youth and inexperience, but with courage and 
determination. He soon attained the reoutation of beinof 
a good collector of claims, and from the complimentary 
passages in letters received at that time he seems early to 
have won the confidence and esteem of his clients. His 
characteristics as a collector were promptness, fidelity, good 
judgment and perseverance, and another characteristic 
which was appreciated by some of his clients was the mod- 
erateness of the fees charged them. He was made County 
Attorney for Buncombe and other counties in that district, 
and his friends seemed confident as to his future success, 
desiring him to seek a broader field of labor in a larger 
city and even to aspire to position in the halls of the law- 
makers at Washington. It must have been gratifying to 
the young practitioner to receive such words as the follow- 
ing from men in authority: 


"I have every confidence that I shall find you enjoying a large share 
of public confidence and favor— the reward of your industry and learn- 
ing."— ///^iT^ ^rt?/^«^/ /• Person, 1834. 

And the following encouraging words in reference to 
the politics of the day may have strengthened his resolu- 
tions for future usefulness: 

"You have the talents and energy to build up a character for yourself. 
It was never intended that you should be a mere copyist of others or fol- 
low in the footsteps of more presumptuous men. Set up for yourself, 
making, however, virtue, usefulness and patriotism the governing princi- 
ples. This is not the road to success these days wdieu servile devotion to 
party is exacted and little men and contracted views and strange isms 
rule the day, but it's the only way to command the respect of good and 
sensible men. If you can build up a party where jealousy shall be 
eschewed, virtuous actions encouraged and selfish ambition excluded, I 
will certainly constitute one of its members.— /(9/^;^ Baxter, July 13, 1857. 

The year i860 found Augustus Merrimon pressing for- 
ward in his profession, winning public confidence by his 
integrity, justice and patriotism; surely but steadily climb- 
ing the heights of popular esteem; not waiting for others 
to prepare the way for him, but advancing bravely to meet 
the difficult questions of the day— he sought to promote 
the welfare of his country. The war approached. Seces- 
sion sentiments were being emphasized, and those who saw 
in advance the fruitlessness of war, the useless shedding of 
blood, the strife and hatred engendered between the sister 
States — those whose better judgment recognized these 
facts, but w^hose feelings maintained the warmth of South- 
ern patriotism, bestirred themselves to avert the impend- 
ino- dano-er and warned and expostulated, but to no effect. 
They may have seen in the dim light of future years the 
effects of four years of civil strife, the Sunny South 
depressed, impoverished, dwarfed in growth and retarded 
in her efforts for advancement. But the feeling that had 


been germinating for years burst forth, and Civil War with 
all its blasting, blighting effects, its bloodshed and havoc, 
soared like a vulture over the sister States, — satiating its 
thirst in the blood of brother ficrhtinor aofainst brother. 

In the year i860, Augustus Merrimon was elected mem- 
ber of the House of Commons for Buncombe. His politics 
were those of a strong Union Whig; and while in Raleigh 
attending the session of the I^egislature he used the oppor- 
tunity of speaking to the people and of expressing his 
strong convictions with all the fervor of earnest belief con- 
cerning the then impending calamities. Before the war 
he maintained strong Union sentiments ; and with the 
earnest convictions of what he deemed best for his country, 
tending toward good government, it seems that he was 
unwilling to shirk a duty honestly plain to him. Not 
only did he desire the welfare of his countrymen, but his 
efforts had that end in view. Looking into social condi- 
tions and the evils of government with a view to render- 
ing aid in rectifying them, he battled with the defects of 
the times and afterw^ard reaped the reward of his people's 
trust and confidence. It may have been by the logic of 
sound reasoning that he foresaw the uselessness of secession, 
the sacrifice of noble lives, the desolated homes; however, 
his own loyal principles caused him to seek to maintain 
the rights of the Union in recalling the seceding States, 
and he vigorously upheld those rights and endeavored to 
lead the people to see the vanity of attempting secession. 
But when w^ar became inevitable, though his judgment 
had pleaded for the peace and order of a stable Union, yet 
his patriotism and love for his section drew him to the sup- 
port of his own people and State. 

Many difficult questions were then brought before the 
people and their law-makers for discussion and settlement, 


such as abolition, railroad extension, ad valorem taxation 
and others, and while taking- part in the discussions rela- 
tive to the questions of the day, my father's friends 
seemed confident that he would maintain their cause with 
good results to them, and wnth credit to himself. Such 
words as the following may attest that confidence: 

"Your friends are so much pleased with your course in regard to those 
exciting subjects now among you — and here extant. The people of this 
county feel that they have a man in the House of Commons this session." 

"Your friends here are all pleased with the course you have pursued in 
the Legislature and the manly way in which you have stood up for our 

"Your course meets the approbation of all conservative men of both 

"Many men who voted against you are now among 5-our warmest 
friends. ' ' 

And SO much the more must these words have encour- 
aged him, as he felt the force of what a friend wrote him 
about this time: 

"Amid the various propositions and plans for action your position as a 
representative is a delicate and responsible one." 

Below are extracts from two of his letters, written while 
in Raleigh, to his brother and to his father: 

November 17, i860. 

Scores of the members of the Legislature are now here and the 
remainder will reach here by next Monday morning. All seem to feel that 
we have important and grave work before us. I am not able to say what 
action will be taken in reference to our Federal relations. * -^ * i confess 
m3-self somewhat astonished at what seems to be the feeling in reference 
to the Union here. All are indignant at the result of the Presidential 
election, but most of the members of the Legislature love the Union and 
are not now willing to give it up. * * ^ i shall act with great care 
and under a due sense of the grave responsibility that rests upon me. I 
shall act calmly, cautiously and not precipitate!}-, haveing in view nothing 
but the honor, the welfare and safety of the people I have the honor to rep- 
resent and the whole countr\'. When I have made up m.}^ opinion as to my 


dut}-, then I shall act prompth' and endeavor to discharge my whole duty 
and at all hazards. ^ ^ * i have heard nothing said of Internal Im- 
provements yet. As I feared would be the case, Federal politics engross 
the whole attention. This evil must be combatted as successfully as pos- 

Raleigh, N. C, February 3, 1861. 

My dear Father: — ^ * * You have learned by this time that the 
Convention Bill has passed into a law. You will learn its details from the 
papers — I voted uniformly for a convention, because I thought and still 
think, \.\\Q people ought to act in the present great emergency. But I was not 
satisfied with the Bill. It limits the action of the Convention to federal 
affairs, when, in my judgment, the action of that body ought not to be lim- 
ited at all. I thought so for many reasons with which I will not now trouble 
3'ou. It is sufficient for us to realize now that a Convention will, in all 
probabilit}', be called by the people for a particular purpose. And it 
becomes the great and patriotic duty oi good, conservative men to see that 
none huigood and reliable men — men of cool, sober judgment compose the 
Convention. Such men will certainly do enough in the Convention, and 
fire-eaters and rash disunionists ought not to be trusted at any time and 
especially at a time of great peril like the present. It is therefore, that I 
hope, the moderate men of our county will see that a. good man, an u?i- 
flinching man h)ecomes a candidate at once for the Convention. * * * 
If the moderate men of the State control the convention, then we are 
safe in the Union if possible, out of it, if absolutely necessary and only 
in this event. ^ ^^ "^^ The prospect of a satisfactory adjustment of 
pending difficulties is gloomy enough indeed, now, but I am glad to be 
able to sa}- to you, that the prospect within the last two or three days is 
brighter than for some time prior to that. I look with some confidence 
to the action of the commissioners from several States which assemble at 
Washington tomorrow. I think that convention will at once agree upon 
terms of compromise and these will be acted upon by Congress and sub- 
mitted to the people. If so, then our country ma}' yet be saved, — if not, 
then will hope be almost extinguished. * * * While I hope for the 
better, I fear the worst. - ^'" * 

My private affairs need m}' attention and I am anxious indeed to be at 
home, but since I have undertaken for the public, I must do my whole 
duty. * ^ -^ 

I have endeavored to discharge my whole dut}' here and I have reason 
to believe that I have brought no dishonor to the name I bear. 

For years before this exciting period of the State's his- 
tory lie had been zealously working for reform, writing 


against political abuses and in favor of newer modes of 
political management and better platforms for parties and 
people. The people's rights he esteemed of paramount 
value. He sought through the press to advocate the ideas 
he felt could be advanced for the best interest of the people. 
A friend, in writing of him at this time, says : 

"Although quite a youug mau comparatively, he has takeu a high stand 
at the bar, and, without doubt, is one of the most promising young men 
in our State. He is also a high-toned, honorable gentleman, and has 
always been one of truest and most devoted party friends. And this is not 
all ; he is a man of untiring energ}-, and when he puts his hands to the 
plough he never looks back." 

At this time, seeking to advance the prosperity of his 
State through the press and through personal appeal to 
those in authority to act, it is not surprising that we find 
his sentiments to be the following : 

[December, 1857.] 

Something ought to be done at once for North Carolina. My whole 
object is to see N. C. in point of her Constitution and in point of State 
policy, wealth and greatness, placed upon an equality with the most 
powerful and prosperous States in our Federal Union. This * "^ * is 
not the case now and never will be while federal politics and policy control 
our State elections and through these our State polic}-. Federal politics 
for many j-ears past have controled our State elections, greatly to the detri- 
ment of our State, both in reference to a proper reform in our State Con- 
stitution and in reference to our Internal Improvement policy. 

Our country must be properly built up internally. 

And in January, i860, we find his sentiments much the 
same as formerly : 

I am pleased and gratified at the firm and unwavering stand 3'ou have 
taken in behalf of those measures of reform in this State that involves the 
happiness and prosperity of our people. They must prevail if North Caro- 
lina ever takes that position as a member of our federal Union, that she 
ought to occupy. Indeed, in my judgment, the questions of reform that 
now agitate the minds of our people, are rapidly becoming the paramount 
questions of the da}-, and I ardently hope they may swallow up federal 


politics uext summer. Nothing shall be lacking on ni}- part to effectuate 
this most desirable end. * * ^ / am for reforiri in North Carolina. 
The people are for it and they are all powerful when the^' act. 

I am for the Constitution, the Union and the laws of the land, and while 
I have a country, I know no north, no south, no east, no west but one 
common country. I love this priceless heritage bought with the best blood 
of the Revolution and consecrated b}- God himself 

If unfortunately the Union should be dissolved, then, of course, I shall 
be for the South alone, and as true to its interests as I now feel, to the 
interests of the American Union. I solemnl}' believe that uinet}- nine 
one hundredths of the people in this section of the State entertain similar 

That man who advocates disunion, would sap the very foundations of 
this Government and spill the life-blood of its firmest and most patriotic 
supporters. Washington looked upon disunion as the worst of political 
evils. He well knew its tendency in any government, and especiall}- in 
one like our own. And he admonishes us to look to iinioii as the palla- 
dium of our political safety and prosperit}'. He learned well, the worth of 
union in the struggle for Independence. In it he hoped for success; he 
fought under its banners, victory crowned his efforts and we are this day 
the blessed enjoyers of the result of his and his brethren's toils. Union in 
effort saved us from English oppression, union has made us one of the 
most powerful nations on earth, union has caused us to prosper and enjo}' 
prosperit}' for three quarters of a century, and where is the man that does 
not say Union, Union now and forever, one and inseperal)le ! ! 

When the crash of separation came, and the South 
plunged into the bloody conflict, my father volunteered in 
the Rough and Ready Guard, a company from his native 
mountain section, but he afterward accepted a captaincy in 
the commissary department of service as assistant to Colonel 
William Johnston, and served at Fort Macon, Ocracoke, Wel- 
don and elsewhere. Beingappointed Solicitor for the Western 
District by Judge French, he accepted the position, and it 
is said that he rendered valuable aid in quelling disorder 
and civil strife in that section of the State and in insuring 
respect for civil measures. He was elected to the same 
oflice, which he held until his election by the Legislature 
to be Judge of the Superior Court of the Eighth Judicial 
District in the year 1865. 



No written records can give a full account of such scenes 
as those that took place in that mighty civil struggle; 
their widest influence cannot be measured by mortal art 
or ingenuity. History may give its most accurate accounts 
of cause and effect, may speak in glowing terms of victory 
or in gloomy words of defeat, yet sometimes such words 
but cnve the shadow of realitv that lies behind the causes 
and effects that concern a nation's welfare. The result of 
those four years of civil strife may be found indelibly 
engraved upon the hearts and homes made desolate by a 
void that even now is felt. 

There were other heroes who endured that war than 
fouo-ht on battlefield or stood at the cannon's mouth. The 
courage and heroism of the Southern women, who also had 
privations to share, in anxiety and loneliness, their little 
ones gathered around the hearth-stone, a double care and 
anxiety — this is not entirely unknown and unapplauded. 
At home the dangers were sometimes great. Robbers and 
marauders were not unknown visitors in various localities 
and civil law had nearly given place to the autocratic rule 
of the stronger of contending persons and parties. The 
idea that all's fair in war seemed to hold sway in such dis- 
tricts, and it required courage, dauntless resolution and 
moral nerve in him who would withstand the opposing cur- 
rent of popular feeling. 

As Solicitor in such turbulent localities it is said that 
my father's life was often imperiled in his eflforts to vindi- 
cate civil authority; but the principle apparent in his char- 
acter in later years seems to have urged him to the per- 
formance of what he believed to be right and his duty, cost 
what it might of personal danger. 

An incident that occured during the period of his Solici- 
torship is told of him that shows his fearlessness of conse- 


quences when he knew his actions to be right. The inhab- 
itants of Madison county, men of strong Union sentiments, 
had made an incursion on Marshall, the county-seat, whose 
people, it seems, held opposing views and were warm 
secessionists. Plundering and depredation were the result 
of the lawless attempt. A large number of armed men 
from Buncombe, angered at this manifestation of lawless- 
ness, set out to inflict punishment upon the offenders. In 
the face of opposition, and the dangerous whispers of some 
that he was trying to screen Union friends, the young 
Solicitor dared not sanction the violation of justice and 
insisted that civil power remain inviolable so that civil 
measures might be taken to punish the offenders and not 
the means that unjust and unreasonable anger dictated. 

Such letters as the following show the extent of lawless- 
ness that then prevailed in some districts of the State and 
the corresponding amount of courage required in him who 
would rashly seek to subdue it : 

"Claytonville, N. C, May lo, 1865. 
"A. S. Merrimon, Esq., 

''My dear Sir: — We have a committee of five appointed b^^ a public 
meeting held at Brevard to ask the United States military authorities at 
Asheville for some sort of protection. We expect to be at Asheville b}' 
10 or 12 o'clock on Friday (to-morrow) and want a conference with you 
and the head officers of the command together immediately on our arrival. 

"The cruelty of many of the robberies are perhaps unheard of in civil- 
ized life, such as roasting men in the fire to extract from them hidden 

treasures. * ^ ^ The}' roasted J O 's gold out of him. They 

built the fire to roast night before last after all other means had 

failed, but was prevailed on to defer it until Friday night by his sick 
daughter, Caroline, who promised them to dispose of a fifteen hundred 
dollar note for gold and let them have what she could sell the note for in 
gold. There is not a day or night but more or less robberies are com- 
mitted. Many of the best farms are stripped of almost everything and 
not a horse left to plow. says if there is a knife, fork, spoon, table- 
cloth, plate, pillow-slip or sheet or blanket left on his place he does not 
know it, except what was over and under his sick daughter, and scores of 


others are being treated in the same way and their persons shamefully 
beaten by the robbers. We believe that most of the robberies are com- 
mitted by bad men from other States, with a few deserters from both 
armies and a few bad boys in the neighborhood. Most of them are known 
to some of our citizens. The citizens have been deprived of their arms 
by both the robbers and soldiers; we are impotent so far as making any 
defense is concerned. Will the authorities aid us? If not, will they allow 
us to arm ourselves in self-defence? L. S. G." 

And when the end of the strnggle came and the South 
lay prostrate at the feet of the conqueror, the Lost Cause 
perished with the lives of those who loved it, then were 
the dregs of the cup of bitterness to be drained and the 
recompense of strife and contention to be reaped by all the 
fair Southland. 

It was a time of disorder and confusion. Says one, 
writing to my father about this time: 

"There has been a terrible mob at Charlotte, and we are here on a vol- 
cano; there is an awful amount of stealing going on— the estate of the 
defunct Confederacy is being administered even before she was buried." 

And another: 

"Corruption stalks abroad everywhere; violence usurps the place of 

Just after the war, when President Johnson ordered an 
election for members of a State Convention to be held in 
Raleio-h, mv father offered himself as a candidate, but was 
defeated by Rev. Dr. Stewart. In December, 1865, the 
Legislature elected him Judge of the Eighth Judicial Dis- 
trict, and he was qualified in January following. 

The duties of such positions were by no means light at 
that time and the same difficulties that had met him as 
Solicitor now lay in his way to the performance of the 
trust his people had confided to him. However, he was not 
deterred from the prosecution of that which was for the 


good of the people and the State; which fact was shown by 
his vigilance and faithfulness in carrying out the law to 
the letter and by his summary manner of dealing with 
those who willfully defied authority, even though the sway 
of civil power and peace was gained with the cost of 
friendly feeling towards himself. Such a course was fol- 
lowed in the counties of Clay, Cherokee and others where 
hostilities were imminent among communities and even 
among neighbors, and where the reign of law had to be 
re-established upon firm and uncompromising terms. 

Reconstruction stalked abroad with all her ignominy to 
the Southern people, and not only by the masses were her 
measures severely felt, but by those in authority and there- 
fore more exposed to the jolt of collision between civil and 
martial power. While holding court for a certain district 
Judge Merrimon received orders to suspend proceedings 
against certain parties from General Sickles. But in this 
instance there was no collision of authority, as the case 
was continued on affidavit. The like orders were received 
at still another sitting of the court, and, recognizing his 
inability to cope with military power, my father resigned 
the Judgeship, feeling that only by so doing could he 
remain true to his oath of allegiance to Constitution and 
State. He gives the reasons that influenced him in his 
resignation in a letter addressed to Major-General D. E. 
Sickles, which was found among his old papers: 

My settled convictions of dut3', growing out of my obligations as a 
Judge of the State under the Constitution and laws of the State and of the 
United States, will not allow me to recognize or obe}' any military order 
whatsoever that may come to me while exercising nn- office in court or at 

I have accepted a high and important office under the State Govern- 
ment put in operation by it and have taken the oaths of office indicated 
above. I as Judge cannot deny the validity of the State Government, and 


I cannot repudiate nn* oaths of office at will and disregard the plain laws 
of the land, which I have sworn I would maintain and administer. The 
act of Congress cannot operate to change my present official obligations, 
and the State Government has taken no steps to do so and I do not sup- 
pose it will, at all events, in time to relieve my present embarrassed situa- 

I therefore deem it due to 3'ou and myself to state now in the frankest 
and most respectful manner, that I cannot and will not recognize or obey 
au}^ militar\' order that may come to me. The conviction of my mind is 
clear, that if I should do so, I would thereby violate my oath of office and 
prove false to the high trust conferred upon and accepted by me, and 
besides I would degrade the Judiciary of the State. 

I do not wish to do an^'thing to excite or irritate the public mind, nor 
do I wish to hinder or delay the reconstruction of the Government, and I 
make this suggestion now, so that you may understand my sense of duty. 
If you will say to me, that I will not be allowed to hold the Courts as 
heretofore and that 3'ou will exercise your superior power to prevent me 
from doing so, in order to avoid a conflict that would result in no good, I 
will tender my resignation at once, to the end some one may be selected 
who can discharge the duties of Judge accordingly as you may direct with- 
out au}^ violation of any official oath or obligation. 

I beg to assure you, that this letter is not prompted by any captious 
spirit or any disposition to embarrass or retard the reconstruction policy 
of Congress. Indeed, so far from this, I am anxious above all things 
politically, for a happy and cordial reconstruction of the Union. I am 
sure that the people of the State and the whole South can have no tolera- 
ble degree of prosperity in any respect until this is done. 

Having sent his resignation to Governor Worth, Judge 
Merrimon was persuaded to withhold it until after he should 
preside at the approaching term of Chowan County Court, at 
which term the famous Johnson will case was to be decided. 
It has been said that this case was perhaps the most impor- 
tant civil case ever tried in North Carolina, and one which 
involved the validity of bequests of the largest amounts 
ever contested in this State, and also that on both sides there 
was drawn together the most brilliant array of legal talent 
that ever pleaded in one cause in the annals of our Supe- 
rior Court judicature. The trial of this case lasted four 


weeks, and during this time many important points were 
brought up for the decision of the Court. It must have 
been gratifying to the Judge who presided on that occasion 
to know that upon no point was he overruled by the higher 
Court, but instead, his well-defined grasp of the many 
points at issue, his wise rulings for the administration of 
sound justice, were approved and complimented. His 
characteristics as a Judge at this time may be shown by 
such words as the following voluntary expressions of his 

"To be engaged in the trial of one cause for four weeks, and in the 
almost infinite number of points raised during that long period not to 
make a single mistake, is remarkable and is entitled to laudatory com- 

"It gives me great pleasure to say to you that the brethren everj-where, 
and they are in the main the best judges, concur in expressing the highest 
approbation of your official qualifications." — /^. B. Gilliam. 

"I am more than pleased with 3-our sj^stem and industry in dispatching 
cases, and not less with your humane and considerate and wise manner of 
distributing justice to the freedmen, so different from some who love to 
gratify an insane hatred to the poor blacks because they are free, by 
lashes — lashes — lashes." — B. F. Moore. 

"It may gratify you. Judge, to know that the single term which you held 
here had a happy and manifest influence in elevating the judicial charac- 
ter and in inspiring respect for courts and a desire to see their dignity pre- 
served. I think it cause for public regret that you find it necessary to 
resign your place as Judge. I am afraid that we are breaking all the 
fastenings that bind us to civil and constitutional liberty and that we 
shall soon be without law, powerless — helpless — on the broad sea of 
SiWdirchy .'^ —Joseph J. Davis {i86/). 

On the acceptance of his resignation by the Governor, 
Augustus Merrimon resumed the practice of the law and 
removed to Raleigh, where he entered into a partnership 
with Hon. Samuel F. Phillips, afterwards United States 
Solicitor-General, under the firm name of Phillips & 
Merrimon. Here he obtained a successful and lucrative 


practice, liis clients comprising not only residents of his 
own State, bankers and corporations, bnt also varions firms 
in the larger cities, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, 
Charleston and others. Besides his regular legal pursuits, 
a fertile field for practice then being found in the Federal 
Courts, he took crreat interest in the affairs which vitally 
concerned the people, and in the restoration of a sound 
and stable government. As a member of the Democratic 
party he was for a time Chairman of its Executive Com- 
mittee, and by that committee was nominated in 1868 for 
Governor. He declined the nomination. Afterwards he was 
nominated for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. 
The decision was practically determined by the balance of 
power that lay in the hands of the gainsayers of Democracy. 

For a time one of the Directors of the Western North 
Carolina Railroad Company at an important period of its 
history, he interested himself in the welfare and material 
prosperity of his State; he thought for the betterment of 
her condition as well as for his own achievement. 

Who may say how little all human achievement appeared 
to him then, when, in the presence of the death of two of 
his little darlings, his heart was bowed beneath the weight 
of affliction and sorrow God had seen fit to send upon him 
— sent in the infinite purpose of Him who knows the 
earthlv clino^ino- of the heart to earthlv idols, and with 
Divine love behind the dispensation. 

The golden locket with their pictured forms was a 
sacred memento which he kept and treasured through the 
remainder of his life. 

His was no heart of adamant, but he possessed a great 
and noble spirit, zealous in the cause of the right and of jus- 
tice, but easily touched by the sufferings of others, by the 
pathetic and the pitiable. That he possessed the beautiful 


trait of sympathy for the distressed, let the words of a 
grateful friend testify, who says: 

"I feel uow my inability to pay either in words or any other way a frac- 
tional part of the debt of gratitude that I owe you, but I hope it may not 
always be so; and when I think that what you have done was done when 
you could see no hope of reward in this world, it only makes me feel the 
more so; rest assured, my dear sir, that I will always be as read}- to help 
3'OU in any hour of trial as you have been to help me in this my darkest 
da}- in life." 

In 1870 my father zealously fought the evils incident to 
the "Kirk War," and of his conduct at that time his 
friend, Mr. Armistead Jones, has said: 

"His voice was constantly raised in defense of civil libert}-, and energies 
directed towards checking the usurpations of the political party then in con- 
trol of the State and Federal Governments, when it became a part of the 
polic}' of that party to foist upon the South the reconstruction amendment 
to the Constitution, which placed under disability many of the best class, 
and extended to the ignorant and incapable the power of control, and when, 
in order to successfulh- execute that policy, the writ of habeas corpus was 
suspended and martial law declared in certain counties of the State, and 
men were arrested and imprisoned b}' a quasi -n\\\\^diXy authority, one of 
the first to come to the rescue was Judge Merrimon. His talents were 
devoted towards sustaining the law of his fathers and upholding the prin- 
ciples of civil liberty that were so near to his heart. He was one of the 
first to apply for writs of habeas corpus and to appeal to the judiciary, 
and finally he was largel}' instrumental in procuring the release of the 
persecuted b}^ order of Judge Brooks." 

His earnest efforts in behalf of the prisoners illegally held 
by Kirk won a well-deserved recompense in their gratitude 
and affection. Following the exciting events of this period 
came the impeachment of Governor Holden, in which cause 
Judge Merrimon was associated with Hon. Thomas Bragg 
and Hon. W. A. Graham as counsel for the prosecution. A 
friend, in speaking of the part assigned my father in that 
trial, has said: 


"To him was given the duty of examining the witnesses, and his 
examination was perfect. It was as fine an exhibition as has ever been 
seen in the conduct of a legal cause. From that time Judge Merrimon's 
reputation rested on the most solid and enduring foundation." 

In 1871, with ex-Governor Bragg, D. M. Barringer and 
G. H. x\lford, he was a candidate from Wake county for 
delegate to a State Convention to be called by a majority 
of the votes of the people, and to be held in Raleigh. He 
was defeated and the Convention was not held. In 1872 
he was nominated by the Democratic party for Governor 
and, it is said, made a strong and able canvass of the State. 
But a^ain defeat was to be met, and Governor Caldwell 
took his seat by virtue of a small majority. The idea 
of contesting the election was advanced, because it was the 
opinion of some of Judge Merrimon's friends that he had 
been rightfully elected. But having faithfully endeavored 
to perform the duty incumbent upon him as his party's 
nominee, he acquiesced in defeat that brought with it no 
dishonor. To quote the opinion of the press: 

"It is not too much to say that, though overpowered in that campaign 
by the force of Federal supervisors at every polling-place, Judge Mer- 
rimon, by his magnificent canvass, by his able and dignified discussion 
of the issues then paramount in a gubernatorial campaign, strengthened 
the Democratic party for two coming struggles in 1874 and 1876, and 
prepared it for the great victory which, with Vance leading, made North 
Carolina the first State in the column of the Solid South after recon- 

"His speeches were indeed masterly. He often spoke for hours, and 
all know the vehemence of his declamation, the earnestness and force 
which characterized his forensic efforts. Only a frame of his great phys- 
ical power could have endured the strain. It was a wonderful demonstra- 
tion of his mental capacity and physical endurance." 

Though nominal defeat crowned this, one of the greatest 
efforts of his life, yet it was not wholly defeat; doubtless 
he endeared himself in that memorable campaign to the 



hearts of many by his patriotic enthusiasm, his stirring 
words of unmistakable meaning with reference to the prin- 
ciples of Democracy, and beyond these — duties of citizen- 
ship to a common country. 

In December, 1872, at the assembling of the Legislature, 
his name was brought forward for the United States Sena- 
torship. The name of Hon. Z. B. Vance was also pre- 
sented. To quote the press again: 

"There was a long contest over the Senatorship, which at length was 
brought to a close by the withdrawal of both Vance and Merrimon. Sub- 
sequently the Democratic caucus again nominated Vance, and almost 
immediately the Houses met in joint session to take a vote. The Repub- 
licans, hoping to disorganize the Democrats, voted for Merrimon, and some 
Democrats who had remained out of the caucus voted with them, and two 
or three, perhaps, who had participated in the caucus again voted for 
Merrimon, and elected him. All of this was without his knowledge. The 
news was communicated to Judge Merrimon while engaged in the Fed- 
eral Court. On consideration he did not decline the election. He 
thanked the men personally who voted for him; but he did not allow the 
manner of his election to swerve him from his adherence to the party." 

"He would not accept the place until he had called together Governor 
Graham and other discreet, wise and highly honorable gentlemen to con- 
sider whether under the circumstances he could with proper self-respect 
accept the place. They unanimously decided that he could do so." 

That comment, even severe criticism, should be made 
upon his accepting the election goes without saying. But, 
heeding not the false accusations leveled against his integ- 
rity as a politician, he pursued the course he believed to 
be right and honorable. That this was true a friend testi- 
fies, who wrote these words: 

"I think you to be one of the few who does take a part in politics and 
is honest." 


"If 'Peace on earth, good-will to men,' is your platform (and I believe 
it is) I am with you most cordially." 


"I thought that at a time when censures were being heaped upon you 
by many of those who were recently loud in 5-our praise it might be 
pleasant to you to know^ that that class of 3'Our friends who have but little 
to do with politics, and no personal ends to serve by party issues, have 
still unabated confidence in you, and rejoice that one of the best types of 
moral character goes to the highest place within the gift of the people of 
the State."— A'^z'. 3fr. Reid. 

For himself, he could say: 

I feel invincible strength in the rectitude of my intentions and acts. 

And of his future actions: 

As a Senator, by the blessing of Providence, it is my unalterable pur- 
pose to do m}' utmost to benefit and bless the whole people, and especially 
m}' immediate constituents of all classes, conditions and colors. I shall 
insist upon right for all, I will not willingly tolerate wrong or oppression 
to any. I am anxious to see the Union rest firmly and forever upon the 
Constitution — to see it completely and cordially restored in the hearts of 
the people, and its government so administered as to make it indeed, their 
paramount political good. I wish to see its government just, great and 
glorious, exercising its mighty powers for its own protection, as well as 
for the maintenance and protection of all the rights and powers of the 
States composing it, within their respective spheres as governments. 

I am essentially Conservative in my opinions and conduct, and as in the 
past so in the future, I shall be a Conservative, having for my political 
guidance no other political chart than the Constitution of m_v country. 
I will never cease to advocate and uphold those great principles of free 
government and civil liberty I had the honor to proclaim during the late 
political campaign in this State. 

Having taken his seat in Congress, he applied himself to 
unravel the difficult problems and intricate questions of 
material importance to the country at large which then lay 
before the law-makers for solution. He amassed information 
concerning the important subjects pending discu^sioTf at. that 
time in Congress, and worked aggressiveiylor the mainte- 
nance of his State's right and honor among her sisters. And 
so six years were passed, wherein the days, even night hours, 
were given to the earnest study of a nation's welfare and 


interests. His speeches delivered in that augnst body are 
fitting representatives and memorials of his efforts; snch 
were the following: On the Financial Condition of the 
Conntry; on the Subversion of Civil Liberty in Louis- 
iana; on the Civil Rights Bill; on Military Usurpation in 
South Carolina; on the Silver Bill; on the Exercise of 
Elective Franchise; on the Japan Refunding Bill; on the 
Thurman Bill in respect to the Pacific Railroad Companies, 
and others, including a bill for the expansion of the cur- 
rency to the extent of $50,000,000 in an increased issue 
of greenbacks. The bill was passed by Congress, but was 
vetoed by President Grant. Of his speech on the Louis- 
iana question a friend wrote: 

"Permit me to commend that feature in your speech which calls back 
those of our Northern Senators who seem to forget their obligations to 
their country. Glorious days returning when a rebel vSenator from North 
Carolina rebukes with all the earnestness of his nature Northern Senators 
in Congress for infidelit}-, to the Constitution and sustains himself so 
well."— i^. H. Justice. 

"Allow me to say that I feel grateful to you for recalling to the Senate's 
attention the great fundamental principles of liberty, from which there 
was a gross departure in the mode of our reconstruction. Andrew John- 
son's fame will eventually rest on his vetoes, which exposed the 
departures." — B. F. Moore. 

And no doubt there was additional encouragement 
afforded him in these criticisms in regard to other Sena- 
torial arguments : 

"I admire your speech for its genuine tone of Southern sentiment, cast- 
ing behind the past and invoking the honest judgment of the North in 
behalf of the South. I think you have effected much to restore good 
relations between the sections." 

"The great masses appro\e your support of Hayes and your efforts to 
destro}' sectionalism and animosities." 

Besides taking part in Congressional debate — one of his 
efforts, it is said, occupying an entire night — he served 


usefully upou the committees ou the post-office, on post 
roads, on privileges and elections, on claims, on rules, on 
the District of Columbia, and was a member of the com- 
mittee to investigate the difficulties concerning the Presi- 
dential election affairs in South Carolina, in the interest of 
which he visited that State. In the examination of evi- 
dence in this, as in other Senatorial investigations, his 
knowledge of law must have been of great usefulness to 
him; that he made use of it is shown by the declaration of 
Hon. Oliver P. Morton, who, it is said, publicly declared 
him to be "the ablest lawyer on the floor of Congress." 

At the close of his term of service friends warmly 
expressed the desire that he should be returned. Their 
approval of his course as a Senator is evidenced by many 
letters received by him at the time: 

"You have been a faithful and valuable representative of your State 
and of the South during your whole term of service. I have had occasion 
to observe your high integrity and devotion to principle, and to admire 


"How you can find time, whether as an eminent statesman in your 
seat in the United States Senate deeply engro.ssed in thoughts and meas- 
ures to promote the best good of the country and of your State and the 
South, or whether at home thinking and working for the best good of 
North Carolina in all her sections and relations, to stop occasionally for a 
few minutes to read humble productions like mine and to say a kind 
word to me and others, passes my understanding. But you do it, you 
answer everybody's letters, you are always ready to serve a true North 
Carolinian, you are always at your post, always thinking and acting for 
the people of North Carolina, with a heart that beats true and steadfast 
for the country at large." — S'. 5. Satchzvell. 

"Senator Merrimon has already attained a national reputation— a 
world-wide fame as one of our greatest statesmen; therefore let us use 
wisdom, not prejudice, in the matter and retain him ni the Senate so long 
as he continues the able and assiduous statesman and patriot he now is." 

However, he was not returned to the Senate at the 
expiration of his term of office. The respect and admira- 
tion of his friends were a merited recompense for his labors. 


"You have many warm friends in this section of the State, friends who 
have watched you for years, and who not only rejoice that 3'our public 
record is without a lilot, but that there is not even an act over which they 
feel called upon to cast the mantle of charity." 

"Although it is my lot to differ from 3'ourself in nn- political tenets, I 
cannot but express my admiration for j-our magnanimous course in the 
race for Senatorial honors, and nmst sa}- that your many friends in North 
Carolina think that even in defeat you were victorious." 

At the end of his Senatorial service his own words tes- 
tify that he had followed the course he had prescribed for 
himself at its beginning: 

I have endeavored to serve my State and people and the whole country 
faithfully. -^ -^ * i think I can truthfully sa}', that I have not neg- 
lected the business interests of any one, rich or poor, white or black, and 
without regard to party affiliations, when the same have been brought 
to m3' attention and I might be properly charged with them. And while 
I have paid due regard to the highest interests of the country and par- 
ticularly those of the people whose immediate servant I am, I have 
been ever faithful to the democratic party. 

I can't conjecture what the future has in store for me; but under all 
circumstances I intend to do what I conceive to be right and leave no 
stain on m}^ name when I shall be called to my final account. It is my 
purpose to go at once into the active and zealous practice of my profession. 

While representing his State in the councils of the nation 
at Washington, his law office at Raleigh w^as kept open by 
two of his friends, with whom a copartnership had been 
formed — Hon. T. C. Fuller, now Judge of one of the 
Federal Courts, and Hon. S. A. Ashe, under the firm name 
of Merrimon, Fuller & Ashe. Returning from Washing- 
ton, my father entered upon a lucrative practice of the law. 
On the withdrawal of Mr. Ashe to pursue journalism the 
firm became Merrimon & Fuller. In the practice of law, 
which he finally pursued alone, he continued to labor, gain- 
ing from it, perhaps, a better income than that which 
awaited him upon the bench. In the year 1883 he was 
appointed by Governor Jarvis to the seat upon the Supreme 


Court bench made vacant by the resignation of Judge 
Thomas Ruffin, Jr. This appointment was twice confirmed 
b\' the votes of the people at the polls. 

On the death of Chief Justice Smith, in November, 
1889, Judge Merrimon succeeded him as the chief judicial 
officer of the State. The people again showed their confi- 
dence in his fitness for the position by giving him, it is 
said, about 40,000 majority at the election following the 
appointment which had been made by Governor D. G. 

As occupying this honorable position it seems that he 
acquitted himself, as in the discharge of former duty con- 
ferred upon him by the people, with inflexible purpose for 
the triumph of right against wrong, justice over oppression, 
and the maintenance of the law's demands inviolable. As 
a Judge it was said of him: 

"While upon the Supreme Court beucli much of his attention was 
given to settling the practice under the Code, and he was specially fitted 
for this work. He cleared aw^ay the uncertainty that enveloped points of 
practice, construing the statutes in a plain and concise wa}', so as to have 
it express its true meaning. His opinions, beginning with the 89th vol- 
un]e of our Reports and extending through the 109th volume, abound 
with such force and learning as will ever mark him one of the greatest 
and purest Judges of modern times. He was broad, and at the same time 
possessed a power of concentration that enabled him to discern the true 
principle and deal with it at ease. He was a bold, just Judge, fearless of 
consequences when he believed he was right. He at no time stooped to 
popular prejudice or opinion, and sustained through life a spotless name. 
While upon the bench he scorned the idea of being influenced by outside 
popular feeling, and had the courage and manhood to give his opinion of 
the law as he in conscience understood it. 

"What was more natural than that this man whose life-work had been 
spent in following precedents, in establishing highways through the intri- 
cacies of legal questions, in the support and maintenance of those princi- 
ples of human conduct that the experience of the best and wisest of men 
has determined to be most durable and most worthy, and who illustrated 
by his own ways that the most exalted plane of highest virtue was his con- 


stant aim, should be fouud at the last with his eyes fixed upon Him who 
is the fountain and source of all law, of all things which are for the best 
of mankind? 

"Yes, the closing scenes of his life gave evidence trumpet-tongued 
that he who loved truth in law here shall stand forever blessed in the 
presence of Him who is the great lawgiver and maker. 

"His belief and his mode of living here were in the eternal fatherhood 
of God and the boundless brotherhood of man. In the world above, where 
the reign of law is supreme and without infringement, shall this just man 
live forever."* 

*From the speech made by Mr. Arniistead Jones at the presentation of Judge Merri- 
mon's portrait to the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, IMarch 27, 1894. 


Without doubt the strong points in the character of him 
of whom these pages have sought to tell were brought out 
prominently in his life-work, in his whole career at the 
bar, in the Senate and on the bench. To enlarge upon 
them in description is, perhaps, unnecessary, and yet there 
are in. human character many minor peculiarities, shades 
of temperament and disposition which the world knows not 
of, but which make up the complete man, and, blended 
with the more marked characteristics, constitute for each 
one an individuality. To describe the delicate fabric of 
character with accuracy, and to give to others one's own 
view of it, and the significance of every detail of its com- 
position, is not an easy task. By its fruits the tree is to be 
judged, and in a man's life-work are most clearly seen the 
thoughts and intents of his heart. 

From the cordial expressions of his friends, with refer- 
ence to mv father's character, the emphasis of their admira- 
tion seems laid upon his integrity, his uncompromising 
uprightness, as upon the strong foundation on which the 
sterling qualities of his character were built. That such 
were indeed component parts of it is shown in instances 
during his early life when he sought to maintain the broad 
principles of right and justice in opposition to party preju- 
dice, and, in the words of a friend of his boyhood days, did 
not allow himself to be swayed from the right by every 
breath of popular opinion. He was glad to believe that 
from youth his attainments were, humanly speaking, the 
result of his own earnest endeavor and individual effort. 


His education — not the complete collegiate course of the 
boys of to-day, but more rudimentary, with more of out- 
side toil for him who would succed, his manual labor on 
the farm, his first toilsome years of practice at the bar, 
with the succeeding difficulties occasioned by the Civil 
War — all these were stepping-stones for him, laboriously 
ascended in face of disadvantage and to be made conducive 
to still further advancement God gave him natural ability ; 
he, for his part, did not fail to improve the talent given 
him. If "the esteem of our contemporaries is the highest 
reward of the citizen," surely that reward was his of whom 
these words were written: 

"An incorruptible man. Threats could not intimidate hirn, money nor 
the trappings of office could not bribe him. Honesty was written in his 
ver}' countenance; bad men feared him, and good men looked up to him 
as the bold and eloquent defender of their rights and the rights of the 

It has been said that "There are four qualifications for 
a Judge: Inflexible integrity, intellectual ability, learning 
in the law, and the judicial temperament. If to these are 
added long experience and a just sense of the dignity of 
the bench, the result is a magistrate teres atque rotiindiisy 

Whether Judge Merrimon possessed these characteristics 
or not it is for the world to determine, but with an innate 
sense of justice he combined the quality of mercy, a trait 
that should ennoble and beautify the character of every 
Judge, making him no mere mechanical adjudicator for the 
people, meting out a certain portion of penalty to every 
offender, but whatever the rulings might be behind them 
lay the heart's warm sympathy for the weak and the 
oppressed. The administration of justice in such a man- 
ner betokens that spirit which is destined to triumph finally 
over the crime of our land, to supersede our work-houses 


and penitentiaries and to circumvent and conquer the pur- 
poses of lawlessness by its own pure weapon — the sword 
of the Spirit. 

This trait of my father's character — sympathy for the 
poor and wretched — is manifested in reading the words of 
a o-rateful friend who tells of "a circumstance that will 
never be effaced from my memory — you rose from a bed 
of sickness in very cold weather, had me released as a cap- 
tive to return to a family in distress." 

With this kindness of heart and warm, sympathetic nature 
there was combined a strong- devotion to justice and regard 
for the rights of others. These he respected and disliked 
to see them infringed upon. He was courteous and polite 
to high and low, to each race, without distinction. It was 
often that one might hear him say to a servant, "Well 

, have you said your prayers to-day?" and again, 

talking to those whose life was passing in caste and scale 
much lower than his own of religion and that which makes 
each human soul alike in God's sight — a common burden 
of sin. In his mode of living, as in his charity, he was 
unostentatious, and back of the mere alms-giving lay the 
fellow-feeling for the good of him to whom the charity was 
offered. In the affairs of daily life he was punctual and 
methodical. He himself said: "My rule is promptitude 
in all things," and during his entire term of service on 
the Supreme Court bench (up to the time of his last ill- 
ness) he never missed a moment of being punctually at 
his place on the opening of court. Indeed, from early 
manhood, duty had led him on to fulfill the requirements 
of his profession, and he realized that "the practical law- 
yer's life is not one of ease and luxury, and especially in 
that section of the country." With good grace could 
he o-ive to another the advice bv which he himself 


had profited: "Determine to overcome every obstacle, 
however imposing in its character or dimensions." 
With respect to his own method of dealing with his 
fellow-men he said: "It is a rule of my life to deal 
fairly with all men and to never exact more than a fair 
compensation for services. Indeed, I do not ahvays exact 
this." He loved his profession and was a student in its 
realms. In summer, when the session of active duty was 
over, and the mental toil and earnest application in the 
work of the Court seemed to have wearied him, he would still 
read his law-books, review cases, write opinions, and in this 
way continue his work, while in truth his health required 
absolute mental and physical rest. Especially during 
the latter part of his life did he seem wedded to the books of 
his profession — the law, its philosophy and history. But this 
did not preclude his interest in and fondness for w^orks of 
other kinds. He was a systematic reader of the Bible, and in 
his librarv one mig^ht find manv books treatino^ of the orreat 
truths of religion, the momentous questions of life, its 
mysteries and its purpose. Liddon's Bampton Lectures, 
which he had been reading shortly before his last illness, 
were arguments full of thought and force to him. In 
lighter literature he was fond of Dickens and Thackeray, 
especially of the former, whose alternate pathos and humor 
could touch his heart and bring the tears into his eyes, or 
draw forth his hearty laughter. He loved to reread the 
scenes that impressed him in Dickens' graphic word-paint- 
ing of child-character, the death of Little Nell, of Paul Dom- 
bey and of Vagabond Joe in Bleak House. My father 
understood the motive of the writer of the latter scene, 
which so strongly appeals in so simple a manner to the 
heedless world that forgets the wretched dying in igno- 
rance about us. 


This little note written to a friend who had loaned him 
a tender little tale of child- life, evidences his love for such 
pure and pathetic literature: 

Dear Samuel, I thank you for the opportuuity to read "Misunder- 
stood." I read it last night with pleasure and tears. It softens my nature 
and touches my heart. What a pretty story of child-life mixed up with 
parental life! What beautiful thoughts so well expressed in the purest 
diction I A storj- of little children — their natures— their love of parents — 
their longings for the love and sympath}' of mother and father — their 
amusements— their adventures — their liitle heedlessness —their joys — their 
heartaches — their hopes —their confidence and trust! And oh, the loss of 

The little book — a tale so simple — touches the good side of me, and it 
helps me to see and appreciate the goodness and gentleness of your own 

Samuel, ma}^ 3'ou and I, by and by, as we pass into the shade or the 
brightness of the other life, hear "the voice from heaven as the voice of 
many waters" — hear "the harpers harping with their harps," and hear 
the song, "as it were a new song, " that no man could learn * -^ * but the 
hundred and fort\' and four thousand redeemed from the earth." And 
may we each, though gra}^ with age, like poor little Humphre}', be able 
to sa}', "Has God sent you to fetch me at last. Mother? Oh, Mother! I'll 
come! I'll come!" Prett}^ thought! 

The stor\' — parts of it — reminds me of those of "little Paul Dombey," 
"Vagabond Joe " and Little Nell." — Did the writer get some of the touch- 
ing expressions and pathos from them? I W'on't say so. 

Thank you for commending the story to me. 

Yr. friend, A. S. M. 

Monday morning, January 7, '89. 

But my father's friendship for authors in the world of 
fiction was not confined to the writers referred to above, 
for he had amassed a valuable collection of the works of 
the world's great thinkers, and his library was a source of 
deep interest and pleasure to him. He understood the 
value of good books and their salutary influence over nar- 
row minds, for from them he had acquired his own broad 
field of information and was enabled thereby on so great 
a number of varied subjects to give his intelligent and edify- 


ing opinions. The law was indeed his specialty, but by 
no means were the length and breadth of his strono- far- 
reaching mental powers circumscribed within this narrow 

He was a fluent and effective speaker, whether in Con- 
gressional debate, on the hustings, at temperance meetings, 
or school commencements, full of earnestness on those 
themes that lay so near his heart, and always with some- 
thing to say that met some need. The cause of temper- 
ance was dear to him; he had seen the sting and sin of the 
evil of intemperance and pronounced it ''the crowning 
temporal curse of humanity." Education for the masses, 
intelligent labor and progress for all classes and conditions 
of people, were subjects which he could discuss with more 
than theoretical interest. He believed in the nobility of 
labor, be it of the hands or of the head. To him there 
was no degradation in honest manual toil. The honor or 
dishonor rested upon the manner of doing the work, not 
upon the work itself A friend said of him: 

"He believed iu every man's having a purpose, and devoting himself to 
his life-work vigorously and earnestly. He never made a speech in which 
he did not strive to impress upon those who heard him the dignity of 
labor and the beauty of uprightness and justice. He hated the distinc- 
tions which modern custom puts on the word labor. He once said to me: 
' I have no respect for a man who does not work. The Creator made all 
men to labor, and the man who is an idler, and who is not a laborer, is not 
following the mission of his creation. I am as much a working man as if 
I shoved the plane or worked on the farm. I have worked on the farm, 
but I never labored so hard or became so fatigued as since I have 
been a Judge. All men who do their duty are laborers, whether on the 
bench, at the forge or in the field.' * * ^ He believed in work, and 
he believed in integrity of life. He practiced what he believed. His life 
was free from blame, and he always had unwavering faith in God." 

My father loved Nature; the singing birds, the soft, 
green grass, the blooming flowers and verdant shrubs were 


sources of pure pleasure to him ; he would watch the graceful 
maples, the glossy magnolias, the dense-leaved oaks through 
whose branches the golden sunlight flitted, and the horse- 
chestnut trees as they grew and expanded year by year; all 
these were interesting to him in their beauty of growth and 
dev^elopment. Sometimes when the roses bloomed, in his 
walks among his favorites, he would cut a deep crimson or 
full-blown pink one and bring it in to present to some one 
of the family as an offering beautiful and acceptable. He 
loved to hear the songsters in the trees, to watch the ducks 
in their ablutions, or the playful antics of the cat, and to 
give to his faithful horse and dog the evidence of their 
master's afi'ection and regard for the welfare of his dumb 
creatures. It was but natural that he should love to con- 
template the broad realm of Nature, for from infancy and 
boyhood she had surrounded him with her grandest forms 
in mountain, stream and valley. Of those early scenes 
he says : ' ' The glorious mountains ! O, I love them as I love 

This love of Nature is shown in letters written by my 
father to those who held the first place in his heart and 
whose welfare was first in his thoughts. Extracts from 
those letters are given below, and just here it may be said 
that his writing was not very legible; indeed, to some it 
was a troublesome matter to read his letters, so unusual 
were the formations of some of the words. "Your writ- 
ing," wrote a friend, "is hard to decipher, and were it one 
of your 'opinions' it might come very well under the 
description oi lex non script a^ 

Washington, D. C. 

I sit thinking of home and the dear ones there while I write these hasty 
lines. I feel lonely. Did 3-ou ever feel loneh- with hundreds all around 
3'ou? It is not always that the heart feels cheered by company — mine 
often runs off after distant ones and no charms can call it back. My 


heart is at home! And how dear home is I Home, home!! Word that 
stirs the soul with intense longing! There is no place like home! There 
one may find friends indeed — those who appreciate — those who love and 
sustain. Dark hours and days ma}' cast their shadows there, but behind 
the shadows — 'neath the rain-fall, however dark, the light of love and 
sympathy shines on brightl}' and truly. I often think of this and it affords 
me pleasure. Here and elsewhere I see the smiles of affected friendship — 
I turn only to home and dear ones there, to find that love and friendship 
which is pure and will never die. 

To his daughter: 

I am glad to see that you enjoy contentment — that 3-ou are learning — 
that you begin to love to learn and that 3'ou have the soft sunshine of 
.contentment in your soul. ^ ^ ^^ We ought to draw pleasure from all 
about us— did you ever think of this? There are the sun and moon and 
stars — the trees, the shrubs, and then too, especially, flowers. What a 
field flowers afford for innocent pleasure! Then to do this, you must 
understand their nature — their form, their color — their scent and the 
seasons that suit them — all these things and more you must know of them, 
and you can learn from books. 

My dear little daughter, God bless, protect and direct you in all things — 
save you from sorrow and sighing through all the pathway of life, and 
after awhile when 3'ou shall quit this world, I want you to be, I trust 3'ou 
will be, a beautiful angel in a world far more beautiful than this! Good 
men in all ages have firmly believed that there is a fairer world than ours, 
and I love 3-ou so much and so tenderh', that I want you to go to that 
beautiful land. Isaiah says, "And a highwav' shall be there, and a wa3', 
and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over 
it, but it shall be for them; the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not 
err therein. No lion shall be there, nor an}- ravenous beast shall go up 
thereon -it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there. 
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs 
and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, 
and sorrow and sighing shall flee awa3\" What beautiful words and how 
comforting! Don't 30U think so? And would you not like, when you 
have to leave this world, to go there? In the same chapter it is said, 
"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the 
desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." What beautiful words and 
thoughts! I almost want to go to that land; don't you? Get your Bible 
and read the 35th chapt. of Isaiah and tell me what you think of it. 

While sitting here alone in m3' room a few moments ago reading, I 
heard some one in the parlor not far off, singing and playing on the piano, 


''Nearer my God to Thee:' As the music, very sweet, fell on my ears, I 
felt very sad, and in a moment my thoughts were with you at home. 
Reflecting a moment, I said to myself, what does this mean— this idea 
"nearer my God to thee?" What is God? And why should I wish to be 
near to God? Well, I have an idea of what God is; but I fear it is an 
imperfect one; my notion is, that God is the incomprehensible — supreme 
in all respects— being— existence — that made all things— that upholds all 
things — that fills eternity — that always existed — that exists now and 
always will exist in absolute perfection, however or by whomsoever con- 
sidered or thought of. And He made all things well, for a purpose, a 
wise and good purpose. He made us, you and me, for a good and wise 
purpose, that we might obey the laws prescribed for our government 
* " * if we observe the course of conduct He has prescribed for us, 
our nature will be in absolute harmony with His.— Our object ought to be, 
to make our nature harmonize with His nature. ^ * * We desire to go 
towards that rule of perfect conduct — in doing so, we must get nearer 
to God, and hence the song says, "Nearer my God to Thee" — that 
is, nearer to a perfect observance of Thy will — Thy law! I am sure, when 
I consider our nature- our wants— our desires — our requirements — the 
consistency and harmony that ought to prevail in human conduct — that 
we may come to desire that the zuill of God be done; the perfect 
zuill of God be done. I can see and understand that the doing that will 
implies blessedness, happiness, and that there is no happiness without 
this. * * * Why is it, seeing these things, that w^e will not observe 
this perfect law— will of God? Ah, this is a grave question, and to me it 
implies a great mystery. Why should we wish to do wrong, when we 
know that the consequence of so doing is misery, unhappiness, discon- 
tent! Can you tell me? See if you can. « * - Why should any one 
lie, swear, steal and do a thousand things that bring shame— disgrace and 
misery ? Is it not strange indeed, that thousands do so ? And why will we 
not practice virtue in all our acts and thoughts — sincerity, honesty, upright- 
ness in all things, especially when we see that from such a course of con- 
duct come peace, confidence, comfort, ease of conscience! How confident, 
how trustful, how respectable, how fearless, is he who has conscious inno- 
cence ! I think that many persons do wrong from carelessness — from 
inadvertence— they do not reflect upon what is right— they contract habits 
of doing wrong and one wrong leads to doing another. * * * We 
ought to think of our acts before we do them — look at the nature of them 
and the consequences to flow from them — and this question should always 
be present in our minds — is this right — can I stand by this proposed act ? 
If we would be thus careful, I'm sure we would be much better than we 
are. The birds sing * -^ * they follow out the law of their nature. 
* * * why may not you do so too ? See the flowers that you love — 


they follow the law of their nature — the law of God — how beautiful the}^ 
are — they do their office — why may you not do the same and be more 
beautiful than they ? 

I want you to be ever glad and bright — then you will make 3'our mother 
and me so. If I hear a bird sing cheerih', I feel encouraged and cheered; 
don't you? Strive to make all about 3'ou happ\-; lift up N-our soul — live 
while you may and make the most and best of life! 

On the death of his wife's sister: 

I can well understand that you are sorrowful and gloomy— that you all 
are so. But it is not well to give way too much to gloom — God has spoken 
— He knows best. We should submit to His supreme will, and learn from 
such manifestations of His Providence, the deepest wisdom. B3' and by, 
we too must pass the like solemn test. Shall we be ready? Let us so 
square our lives, that in the end, we can pass from this life quietly with 
confidence and living hope! 

To his son at school: 

Be sure to read your Bible regularly. From it \-ou can get rich stores 
of information that will fit you to live and die. Do not wait to see what 
others do in this respect. — You must set the example. 

This is my birthday. This day I am fifty three years old! And how 
little I have accomplished in life for myself, for my famil}-, for societ}' 
and for God! I feel sad indeed, while I reflect how much I might have 
done and how little I have gotten out of life! But still, my life has been 
one of constant labor. — I have not known what are commonly called the 
pleasures of life. I have sought for that I have not gained. I have how- 
ever, one comforting reflection— I have not brought reproach on the name 
I bear — if m}- famih' and friends have no reason to be proud of me, they, 
on the other hand, need not blush for me. I might have done more and 
better; I might have done less and worse. O, that I had done more! — As 
I stand at this point in life's way, I ask myself the solemn question, what 
shall the future be? How shall I go, in what way, what shall I do, to 
accomplish most — how shall I most surely extract the juice — the essence^ 
of the renmant of life left to me? How shall I ennoble my own life, how 
shall I benefit and bless my family and society, and above this, how shall I 
get nearer to God? I want to do what, under nature and God, I ought to 
do. But I am weak and ignorant — I go stumbling along in the dark, 
through doubt and apprehension. What shall I do, how shall I do to fill 
the measure of dut}' — of life! My prayer is, that God will help, strengthen 
and direct me! —I realize that life is lapsing fast — at most, I must go hence 


before a long while, and O where?— My life is chastened by the departure 
of dear ones, I shall see no more, certainly, in this life. I find myself 
constantly thinking of them, and asking myself the question, when shall I 
wo hence too? * * ^ I'll put these things behind me, and go forward 
with an honest purpose, and a firmer resolution and courage, to do life's 
duty! That is it— to do one's duty! One's honest duty! I shall do all I 
can for my family, all I can for society— all I can for God! 

The day is bright and glorious! I feel impressed by it. The earth, the 
sunshine, the trees, the shrubs, the grass, the songs of the birds, all things 
seem so calm, so peaceful— a spirit of worship seems to fill the air! 
- - * I think, I feel that God is great— that God is good! And I send 
you salutations of peace and love! The shrubs, the flowers, the trees 
look charmingly and gladden my eyes whenever I look upon them. 
Just at daybreak, I hear the concert of birds— how sweet and cheerful— 
they seem to be singing morning songs to God! How happy they are! 
They cheer me. I lie and listen and listen, and think of dear Mary and 
her sweet songs and long to see her. 

Very nearly akin to this love of Nature lay my father's 
fondness for sweet, soulful music, for songs that dwelt 
upon the purest themes and those that told of Heaven. 
Among his favorites, were "My Ain Countrie," ''Nearer 
my God to Thee," "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand," 
and "Jesus, I my Cross Have Taken." On the Sabbath, 
his work laid aside, he nsually attended the church of his 
preference, the Edenton Street Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South. However, he was not bigoted with respect to this 
preference, but often enjoyed worshiping with the members 
of other denominations. If on the Sabbath he failed to 
attend service for some reason he deemed a sufficient 
hindrance he would read his Bible, the Psalms — David's 
beautiful soul-cries, and John Wesley's Sermons. The latter 
sometimes he would read aloud for the benefit of whoever 
might be with him. Hall's, Marvin's and Bascom's Ser- 
mons were among his favorites also, but the fertile mind 
of Wesley seemed to bring forth more fully and clearly 
that which satisfied his need. Up to a short time before 


his release from the flesh he had not formally connected 
himself with the Church; but his mind had been deeply 
engaged upon the weighty questions of eternity and of the 
salvation of human souls. He was an honest man; his 
honesty was apparent in this, the most serious question of 
his life; and he had deferred taking the vows of the Church 
until, from his inmost soul, with the faith of a little child, 
without which none shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he 
could repeat those solemn words. 

This was indeed the crowning beauty of his life, the 
summit of its achievement. Like Newton, it seems that he 
realized that man's wisdom is but the shadow of God's 
knowledge — yea, foolishness with him; that the highest 
pinnacle of human attainment is but a feeble elevation 
from which the mind can more clearly perceive, though in 
but meagre part, God's infinite love and plan and purpose. 

Physically my father had been a man of robust health, 
stout but strono and vig-orous before disease laid its deadlv 
hand upon him, and then the change was but a gradual 
one. His face and head were finely shaped. His brow 
was broad and high and his countenance frank and gentle, 
with an underlying expression of strength and firmness. 
But the face became thinner as the days passed on, and 
paler; the body was yielding to the demands of a too 
incessant mental labor, insomuch that he was forced to con- 
sult a specialist of Philadelphia. The case did not seem 
critical, and with proper mental rest it was thought 
that good effects would result. Dyspepsia, an old enemy, 
troubled him greatly; the sorely needed rest was not 
taken, and work went on apparently unwearyingly until 
the tired frame refused to obey the will, and on the 
14th day of September, 1892, he lay down to obtain the 
rest he had denied himself so. long. The immediate cause 


of his illness was malaria, and in his weakened condition the 
old disease that had troubled him for several years gained 
ascendancy of Nature's recuperative powers. Sciatica and 
dyspepsia added serious discomfort, and the proper nourish- 
ment that he could receive failed to build up the fast ebbing 
strength. For eight long, weary weeks the once powerful 
frame sou^rht earnestlv to free itself from the shackles of 
disease and to rise to vigor and freedom again. How anx- 
ious he was to be up, pursuing his duty at Court and bear- 
incr his share of the burden there! How often the work 
seemed present to his thoughts, when, even in the wander- 
ings of his mind, he addressed the imaginary client, or 
spoke in pitying tones of one wdiose cause had failed, "a 
poor woman." Propped up with pillows and sustained by 
strong, loving arms, in face of the opposition of physician 
and loved ones, he signed the licenses for the law students 
who were at that time to be examined. That trembling, 
faithful hand as it traced those wavering lines sought in 
the hour of weakness, wnth the signs of ebbing life upon 
that pallid face, to be true to the trust his people had com- 
mitted to him. It was remarked how patiently he bore the 
pain and discomfort of his illness, how patiently he waited 
to be up and at his work again. His clothes w^ere brought 
out at his request, ready that he might put them on. Ah, 
he resumed them no more! xA.nd when hope seemed fading 
away he spoke of giving place to another who could serve 
the people in his stead and do the work which he felt should 
be done. 

"It is honest and honorable," he said, forgetful, it would 
seem, of his own labors and deserts, and thoughtful of the 
good of the State and the accomplishment of the work of 
its judiciary. 

What thoughts were sometimes his, as he lay with closed 


eyes, are revealed to us in these words, which he was heard 
repeating: "My God! I worship and adore Thee; I trust 
in Thee! I will be ready when Thou callest me hence — 
in Thine own good time." 

On the afternoon of November 2d he made the following 
statement to his pastor, Rev. J. N. Cole, who took the 
words down, as nearly as he remembered them, after leav- 
ing the sick-room: 

"Mr. Cole, I don't know whether I am to live or to die, but I think I 
am getting close to the end. 

"I am prepared to die. I am read}- for the great event. I am not 
afraid to die. And the ground of ni}- preparation is faith in the Lord Jesus 
Christ. He is everything in salvation. 

"I want you to receive me into the Methodist Church. I am a Metho- 
dist. My whole life has been in the s3-mpathy and love of Meth- 
odism. And I want 3'ou to announce next Sunday, without ostentation, 
that Judge Merrimon has been received into the Methodist Church; that 
I am not able to come to the church, but desire to have this announce- 
ment made because it is proper that it should be made." 

On the next day he assumed the vows of the Methodist 
Church, and with her who had been his beloved companion 
in life's journey since his boyhood, and with those who 
loved him, he partook of the blessed sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper. His faith was firm and bright, and he was 
waiting, yea, ready, for God's wnll to be done. 

About a w^eek before the end some of his favorite songs 
were sung to him, and he repeated to the nurse a verse of 
one of them that seemed inexpressibly beautiful to him: 

"An' these sights an' these sounds will as naething be to me, 
When I hear the angels singin', in my ain countrie. " 

How soon he heard that song of inexpressible beauty! 
On the morning of the 14th of November, 1892, ere the 
sun had gladdened the earth with his morning rays, the 


soul of Augustus Mcrrimon passed into the presence of the 
Sun of Righteousness and into the realization of the beau- 
tiful words he had so often read: 

"I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I 
awake, with Thv likeness." 


"Spirit! Thy labors are o'er, 
Thy term of probation is run, 
Thy steps are now bound for the untrodden shore 
And the race of immortals begun. 

"Spirit! Look not on the strife 

Or the pleasures of earth with regret, 
Pause not, on the threshold of limitless life, 
To mourn for the da}- that is set. 

"Spirit! No fetters can bind. 

No wicked have power to molest. 
There the weary like thee — the wretched, shall find 
A haven — a mansion of rest. 

"Spirit! How bright is the road 

For which thou art now on the wing. 
Thy home it will be with thy Saviour and God, 
Their loud hallelujah to sing."* 

*A favorite of my father's. 


NOVEMBER 23, 1892. 

Mr. Chairman:— It was said by one of old that the "friendship of a 
good man is a gift from the gods." For j'ears I had known Judge Merri- 
nion at the bar, and later as a Judge of this Court. But for the last three 
years it was my fortune to know him most intimately. Side by side at 
the hearing of causes and in the consultation chamber, and, as our homes 
lay in the same direction, almost daily in our walks to and from this 
place, I came to know him well. Not in the language of eulogy and 
admiration, but in the sober words of truth and justice, he was one of the 
best and truest and noblest men I have ever known. He bore malice to 
none. Of injuries to himself he retained no recollections. To those who 
knew him well there was a singular lovableness in the simplicity of his 
character. He was broad and catholic in his views of men and things. 
At all times he possessed the courage of his convictions, and more than 
once or twice with him "the path of duty proved the way to glory." 

He loved his fellow-men. He was essentially a man of the people. He 
earnestly desired their best good. Instinctively the masses understood 
him. Few men have ever lived in this State who have so completely com- 
manded their respect and their entire confidence. And none have more 
deserved it. "To the last he kept the whiteness of his soul, and so men 
mourn over him." He first saw the light in Transylvania, in the midst 
of that glorious land of peak and valley, 

"Where the heart of Nature 
Beats strong amid her hills." 

There, as Burns said of the Poetic Genius of Scotland, the guardian 
Fate of his native State "Found him at the plow and threw her inspiring 
mantle over him." From that moment to the scene which was his latest 
he was alwa3^s found in the path of duly and honor. From the hour he 
entered public life his State heaped her honors upon him, refraining not 
from the very highest and rarest in her gift, nor until, with the slow 
moving feet of those who bear the dead, and with the voice of them that 
wept, from this chamber where they lay in state, the mortal remains of 
the seventh Chief Justice of this Court were borne in honor to their last 



resting-place. Though not an old man, barely turned of three score, he 
has departed full of honors, while the friends who began the march of life 
with him have been scattered like leaves in w'intry weather. 

North Carolina has long since made up her verdict upon the character 
and services of this, her son. No blemish in the course of a long and 
splendid public career ever attached to his name. 

In the Senate of the United States he so bore himself that none could 
doubt that he had no other end in view than to serve the best interests of 
his State and countr3\ After he had retired from the Senate, one Gov- 
ernor, with universal public applause, placed him on this Court, and 
another gave him its chief place. Both appointments were unanimously 
indorsed by the conventions of the Democratic part}', to which he belonged, 
and were ratified b}' overwhelming majorities at the polls. 

The report of the committee has so complete!}' outlined the leading 
events of his career that it would be repetition to refer to them, nor shall 
I allude to that record of his industry and talents which is to be found in 
twenty-two volumes of the Reports of this Court. 

We cannot but be struck with the rapid changes which have succeeded 
one another on the bench w^here he sat. In the last quarter of a century 
there has been a vacancy, on an average, every year and a half. In the last 
three years three of its five members have been removed by death. In 
some respects the public lives of all three bore a resemblance. Each of 
the three, before coming upon this bench, had represented his State in 
the National Councils at Washington, and each had come from that ordeal 
with fame untarnished and without so much as the smell of fire on his 
garments. With Judge Davis his relations had been especially close. 
Together for years at Washington, where one sat in the Senate, while the 
other was in the House, they were later reunited on the bench of this Court, 
where they sat side by side for many years, and almost together they went 
down into the tomb. "Lovely and pleasant in their lives, in death they 
were not divided." 

A few weeks since some of us stood with the Chief Justice amid the 
thronging crowd when upon the lonely hill-side amid the sighing pines 
the body of his friend and ours was laid to rest. And now he, too, has 
passed beyond our gaze. Thus we are again brought face to face with the 
great Mystery. They whom so lately we met in these walls, and with 
whom we talked as man to man, will return no more. In which of yon 
wheeling worlds now move those deathless souls, those inextinguishable 
spirits, which yesterday knew as little of the future as ourselves, but which 
now in wider intelligence survey the vast orbit of creation? Or is it in 
some more distant world, far removed from mortal sight, that they await 
the final trump of the resurrection? In vain we ask these questions — 
but again and again as the portal swings wide open and with never-ceas- 


ing tramp brother after brother passes down and out into the illimitable 
beyond, humanity asks the ever-repeated, uever answered question — 

"We know not where His islands lift 
Their fronded palms in air — 
We only know we cannot drift 
Beyond His love and care." 

Beyond reproach and above suspicion, they were both an honor to their 
profession, which, foremost at all times in contests for civil liberty, can in 
reply to its calumniators always point with pride to such as they in full 
rebuke to those who would assail the high standard of its integrity. If 
pure-hearted, honest men are "the noblest work of God," North Carolina 
has had no nobler sons. We believe them now 

"Something far advanced in state." 

They went not hence suddenly and without warning. Life's duty done, 
their life-work crowned, laying aside the troubles and sorrows which infest 
this pitiful life of ours while the full orb of their being was slowly sinking 
to its setting, calmly under the lengthening shadows of the sunset, their 
spirits lingered by the shore; but 

"When the gorgeous sun illumed the eastern skies 
They passed through glory's morning gate 
And walked in paradise." 

The poet of paganism who lives amid the blaze of the now expiring 
nineteenth century tells us — 

"Pale beyond porch and portal, 

Crowned with calm leaves, she stands, 
Who gathers all things mortal 
In cold, immortal hands." 

But death is not immortal. There was a time when it w^as not, and 
hence there must come a day when it shall surely cease to be. Yet, were 
it true that there is no future for the soul, there would still be an immor- 
tality for the good deeds whose influence, perpetuated by one generation 
acting upon the next, shall live in ever widening circles as "the great 
world spins forever down the ever ringing grooves of change." Our 
brethren are not dead to us. For us they still live, move and breathe in 
the example and the influence of noble lives, and these things can never 

"Were a star quenched on high 
For ages would its light, 
Still traveling downward from the sky 
Bless our mortal sight: 

"So when a good man dies. 
For years beyond our ken 
The light he leaves behind him lies 
Upon the paths of men." 


As I repeat these lines, Mr. Chairman, I know that there comes back to 
you those well remembered words of Tacitus, in speaking of one who in 
his day also deserved to be remembered well of his countrymen. Said he 
in the sonorous tongue of old Rome: 

'' Quidguid ex eo amavinius, quidquid adniirati siii/ius, nianet, inan- 
surumque est in eternitate teniporutn et fama reruni " — 

'* Whatsoever of him we have loved, whatsoever of him we have admired, 
remains and will remain in the eternity of time, and in the fame of his 

Judge Merrimon was long an anxious and earnest seeker after the 
eternal truth. It was a subject on which he loved to discourse. Of 
him it might have been said in those enduring lines: 

"I pray thee, then, he said, 
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men — 
The angel wrote and vanished. The next night 
It came again with a great awakening light. 
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed. 
And lo! his name led all the rest." 

In his last illness the longing of his heart was gratified, and he found 
that peace which passeth all understanding. The star of his life went 
not down behind the darkened west, but it set like the morning star, 
which melts in the brightness of the coming day. 

These are not idle ceremonies. The lives of good men are not lived in 
vain. A State does well to arouse the emulation of the rising generation 
by the example of those who have served the people faithfully and well. 
Rome and Greece filled their temples and porticos with busts and paint- 
ings of their illustrious dead. We can at least place before the living the 
simple but truthful stor}^ of those who, in the hours of danger and 
threatened disaster, by their eloquence and their moral courage upheld 
the wavering cause of civil libert}-, and who, spurning every temptation, 
found their reward in the gratitude of an admiring people, and reached 
the highest honors of the republic. 

Here below our deceased friend is henceforth only a recollection, and 
if, unlike wealthier commonwealths, we cannot turn his features into liv- 
ing bronze or monumental marble, let his memory and the memory of 
such as he be copied in the lives and deeds of those who shall come after 
us. Then when hereafter shall come days of danger and disaster, then 
when shall come, as come to us they must, days of evil, there shall be still 
men like unto him in the land, and our people shall not need to cry out 
in -vain and hopeless agony, as so many nations have done, "Oh! for the 
touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still." 

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me^ IVrite^ 
Blessed are the dead zvhich die in the Lord from henceforth: 
Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; 
and their zuorks do follozu them. * * * A^td they shall 
see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And 
there shall be no night there; and they 7ieed no candle, 
neither light of the sun; for the Lord God give th the^n light: 
and they shall reign for ever and ever. — Rev. xiv:i3; 
XXII : 4, 5.